Boy and the World takes Brazilian soundtrack to the 2016 Oscars


Once upon a time, there was a boy who lived with his family in a house in the countryside where they had their own garden. His father went to the big city in search of better living conditions for everyone. Sad and bewildered, the kid packed up and went to meet him.

This is the story behind the animated feature film Boy and the World, directed by Alê Abreu, who is back in the spotlight for his Oscar nomination in 2016 for Best Animated Feature. "Our film was born as a sincere cry of freedom, love, a political Latin American cry. But above all a cry against the grip that the big industry creates against the potential artists and poets, and against the language of animation itself, "defines the director.

The subtle and naive visual style, animated simply in 2D, with coloured pencils, crayons, glue and paint, has another essential element in the lyrical composition of the plot: the soundtrack. Behind it, there is a heavy-weight team led by Gustavo Kurlat and Ruben Feffer from the company Ultrassom Music Ideas. The work took two years to complete, with many sleepless nights, but in the end yielded a perfect marriage of sound and image. "The process of aligning the soundtrack with the animation was a joint creation. We often did the sounds first and created the animation around that. At other times, the process was the reverse," said Ruben.

The result is a soundtrack that literally has its own language. The few words were created in an invented language: an inverted Portuguese. And it is precisely this lack of recognizable dialogue that makes the sounds elements so essential in the narrative. "The father's flute permeates the entire soundtrack, whose main message is that you do not get ahead with your mind, but with your heart," he says.

Among the musicians who also participated in the process are the percussionist Nana Vasconcelos, the body percussion group Barbatuques and the Grupo Experimental de Música (GEM), which develops sound installations and musical instruments, reusing and recycling materials. The theme song "Aos Olhos de uma Criança", the only sung in Portuguese, is by Emicida. The rap song has been especially composed for the work, with the participation of Drik Barbosa and production of Renan Saman.

The animation, already seen in 80 countries, was a big hit in the United States and Europe, including France. The team are hoping to develop new projects for the international market.

In addition to the Oscar, the film has also been nominated in the categories of Best Art Direction and Best Music and won in the category Best Animated Feature - independent at the 43rd edition of the Annie Awards. Altogether, it has received 44 awards, including best feature film at the 38th Annecy Animation Film Festival in France, considered the world's largest award of its kind.

Click here to listen the interview for the PRI (Public Radio International)