GOBELINS for all: an interview with Cécile BlondelBy: Gabriela Martínez @GabbMartivel
The Morelia International Film Festival (FICM), had the opportunity to interview Cécile Blondel, Head of International Relations of GOBELINS, who told us about the selection process to choose the three Mexicans benefited with the ANIMEXICO scholarship to study the Master of Arts: Animation of Characters and Realization of Animated Cinema, granted by Guillermo del Toro, with the support of Cinépolis.
FICM: What was the selection process like?
Cécile Blondel: The applicant’s motivations, the compatibility between the students and the program, and their socioeconomic status were all considered. Under these criteria, students went through the selection process to enter the MA. The selection process is a difficult one in general because we only accept about 3% of the applicants to GOBELINS.
FICM: What skills did you see in the three Mexicans selected?
CB: We found a lot of talent, very good drawing skills, a gift for storytelling, imagination; each of them have their own universe and identity. At the same time, we found that they are able to work professionally because they showed the capacity to follow instructions in addition to their creativity.
FICM: What characterizes Mexican animators?
CB: In them we find a lot of imagination and a great gift for storytelling. Their style of animation is very vivid, very colorful.
FICM: Guillermo del Toro was a great support to make the ANIMEXICO scholarship possible. How was he approached?
CB: Absolutely. Guillermo visited GOBELINS in 2013, and he said he intended to offer a small lecture to our students and something happened, something almost magical. We were very interested in what Guillermo had to share with the kids, from his artistic and personal values. I do not know, I think it was a matter of mutual appreciation, because since then, we kept in touch with him and he returned several times during the following years.
He met some of our students, kept in touch with them, got involved in some classes and we asked him if he wanted to sponsor our first group of the MA made up of international students and accepted. This is how Guillermo became the godfather of our first generation of the Master of Arts: Character Animation and Animated Filmmaking, which Diego Torres attended in 2016. This increased the affinity between Guillermo and the school.
Eduardo Altamirano was the first Mexican to study at GOBELINS, he was not part of the MA, he was studying 3D Animation.
FICM: Is this the first time that you give scholarships for foreign students?
CB: No, we had done it before. Supporting the talent of young people by providing them with equal opportunities is part of our policy. I think that’s why there is such a good relationship with Guillermo, you could say that we share the same values. The first international class was made up of 43% of scholarship students. One of GOBELINS’ goals is to discover the best talents in the world and support them in their education regardless of their economic restrictions or place of origin. We are very passionate about that.
In our first generation we had students from 18 different countries, including China, India, Jordan, Finland, Spain, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Russia, Lebanon and many more.
FICM: Do you follow up on your students once they graduate?
CB: Yes, of course. Our commitment is to place them in the labor market, we have managed to place 100% of our students in some position. We have a solid network of contacts among our students.
Some of our graduates have won international awards. Pierre Coffin, the creator of “Minions”, for example, is a GOBELINS graduate and has won so many awards that I’ve lost count of them.
FICM: What does it mean for GOBELINS to collaborate with Guillermo del Toro and Cinépolis on this initiative?
CB: It’s very important to us. We are very flattered by the honor of having Guillermo’s trust, of collaborating in shaping the next generation of Mexican animators. We like to participate in projects like this outside of France, we’ve had similar initiatives in South Africa for three years, for example.