25 July 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the premiere of the first Chilean animation. It is the 10-minute short film 'La transmisión del mando presidencial', that make his debut on July 25, 1921, at the Teatro Central de Concepción.
100 years ago, the cartoonist Alfredo Serey marked a before and after in the history of Chilean cinema. After several months looking for a technician that joined the project that would be the first animation made in Chile, he found the recently graduated engineer and film fan, Nicolás Martínez Esquerro, who photographed and assembled the 23,400 drawings made by Serey, which occupied 450 meters of tape and took more than 7 months to give life to the 10 minutes of “La transmisión del mando presidencial' (“The transmission of the presidential command”), premiere that got great success in Concepción and a week later in the now disappeared Alhambra Cinema of Santiago, along with a Mack Sennett comedy program and two Chaplin films.
Produced by the then-incipient National Film study and inspired by the style of the successful American comic strip “Mutt and Jeff”, “The transmission of presidential command” is based on political humor and, according to media covering the news, such as “La Nación”, “Las Últimas Noticias” and “El Sur”, was received with great ovation from the public, being considered a film filled with cleverness, despite having technical critics and almost static drawings, situation understandable for the year of production.
Chile was positioned as the third country of South America in performing an animated work, after Brazil with “O Kaiser” in January 1917 and Argentina with “El Apóstol” in November in the same year.
Also known as “La transmisión del mando supremo”, the short film staged the 1920 presidential change of command ceremony, from Juan Luis Sanfuentes to Arturo Alessandri Palma, the protagonist of the short film and President of the time, also showing caricaturized versions of some politicians of the time. The impact it had was such that the President then, Alessandri, invited the directors to La Moneda to congratulate them.
Today it is not possible to watch the film because there is no copy of the tape, only 4 frames are preserved and they were published in “Las Últimas Noticias”, a newspaper where Serey worked as a cartoonist. In them Arturo Alessandri is portrayed and the use of vignettes with dialogues is appreciated, because the short film was silent.
Although Serey announced a second animated film, 'La transmisión del mando presidencial' was his only exploration into this area. The author of the first Chilean animation continued his creative legacy in quite diverse areas, from approaches to radio telephony and telegraphy that led him to the writing of a book, even homeopathic research, which prompted him to publish the work “La medicina homeopática en la pediatría. El médico homeópata de los niños” (“Homeopathic Medicine in Pediatrics. The homeopathic doctor of children'), and the creation of the chain of homeopathic pharmacies “Serey”, which are maintained to this day.
A new date to celebrate animation in Chile
Until now in Chile, as well as in most parts of the world, October 28th has been declared as the Animation Day. Today, as part of its line of research and diffusion of content vinculated to the animation, CHILEMONOS Foundation is carrying out the ministerial processes and efforts to establish July 25th as the national day of the Chilean animation, in recognition of the first animated work made in this country. Also, because of the celebration and recognition of the 100 years of animation that are celebrated in Chile, CHILEMONOS Foundation will start from this Sunday, July 25, a full year of activities around this 100 th anniversary, with the release of books and special events.