A new animated short film from Kristian Mercado Figueroa, Nuevo Rico has won the award for Best Animated Short at this year’s SXSW film festival.
The film’s title refers to a dystopian future Puerto Rico, now called Nuevo Rico, where a struggling brother and sister stumble onto a celestial secret that propels them to fame.
Accepting the award, Mercado said, “We don’t often see ourselves in cinema, we don’t often see ourselves as these characters, and we don’t even see ourselves in the future, and I wanted to change that. I had to make this film. It was vital.”
Using boundary pushing visuals, Nuevo Rico examines how systemic capitalism devours all bonds. The film is rooted in a lack of autonomy, as it examines the effects of commercialization and colonial status of the island. Mercado described his film as “a bold venture into Latinx-Futurism.” Watch the trailer below:
“Whether it is a commercial, a music video, a short, or even the films he is developing, Kris perceives its uniqueness. He knows what is needed to realize its potential. In the advertising world, this proves to be an unparalleled superpower!” Asori Soto told Reel 360.
One of the first Latinx-Futurism pieces in media, the short features a 90% POC call sheet that showcases diverse international animation teams. Mercado credited Executive Producer and star Jackie Cruz with nurturing the film’s creation “to give creators of color more roles and complex characters to play.”
Nuevo Rico was realized by a consortium of Latinx creatives from Tunya York Studio/Colombia, Memoma Studio/Mexico City, Deux Wave – a POC-run company in Philly – and Fustic Studio/Vietnam. Mercado cast Afrolatinx talent, with Barbie played by Cruz, and Vico played by Antonio Vizcarrondo of Puerto Rican-Jamaican background.
In addition to Nuevo Rico, “Bring Back Laughs” – an outdoor comedy special filmed by Mercado this past summer featuring Carmen Lynch, Janeane Garofalo, Tone Bell, and others – featured at SXSW, this time as part of the SXSW Comedy Festival.
On the spot front, Mercado is in production on his latest collaboration with bespoke NY-based production company Easy Mondays. The project is a global ad campaign for an undisclosed client; Mercado’s recent work with the company – Corona “Shellphone,” starring Snoop Dogg and Bad Bunny – aired during Super Bowl LV.