TRAILER: Cuba's First CGI Animated Film Mixes the Look of 'Shrek' With the Writing of Jose Martí

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What do you get when you mix Shrek with Cuban revolutionary poet-philosopher José Martí?

Well, I’m actually not sure, but it would definitely look something like Meñique y el espejo mágico (Tom Little and the Magic Mirror), Cuba’s first foray into CGI animation. Written and directed by eminent screenwriter Ernesto Padrón — who together with his brother Juan brought the world the animated classics Elpidio Valdés and Vampires in HavanaMeñique is a tropicalized fairy tale replete with green giants, magical mirrors, and damsels in distress. But don’t be fooled, this is not your typical Disney fare.

Based on a short story by Mr. Martí himself, Meñique follows a young campesino who leaves his home to help bring his family out of poverty. While there are kings, princesses, and royal courts, the real story unfolds in the favelas surrounding the palace where Meñique falls in love with a mysterious bandit who steals from the king and gives to the poor residents of the slums.

To American eyes accustomed to the very best in 3-D modeling, Meñique might look a little like an N64 video game from the late 90s, but it is a milestone in Cuban animation that was eight years in the making. In fact, the animation team had to teach themselves the technology from scratch using outdated equipment and without the help of trained professionals. So don’t judge.

The state film studio is supposedly in talks with distributors from both the U.S. and Europe, so it’s possible we’ll have this monument to Cuban tenacity on screens, stateside, sometime soon.

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