Indigenist Animation Filmmaker Dominique Jonard Dies


French-born Mexico-based filmmaker Dominique Jonard died on Sunday, April 1, at the age of 61. A recipient of grants from the Mexican National Fund for Culture and Arts (FONCA), the Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE), and the MacArthur and Rockefeller Foundations, he was best known for his film animation work with indigenous children from different parts of Mexico, which earned awards in numerous international film festivals.

Born in L'Arbresles, Rhone, France in 1956, he studied Fine Arts in Lyon, France, and at the Californian College of the Arts in Oakland, California. He arrived to Mexico in 1977 where he lived until his death, making his home in Michoacán since 1984.

Jonard traveled across Mexico to work with children and young people, contributing to the storylines, drawings and voices of his short animations. His first work ¡Aguas con el botas!, an animation about the declining turtle population in a coastal town, won the Premio Pitirre for Best Animation at the 1995 Festival de Cine de Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

His short animation film Desde adentro (1996), produced with at-risk teenagers from Morelia, Michoacán, won numerous awards was awarded the award for Best Animation at the Havana Film Festival and at the San Francisco International Film Festival; and the Special Jury Award at the Seoul International Family Film Festival.

His 1998 animation Santo Golpe, made with Tzeltal and Tzotzil children from Zinacantán, Chiapas, won a special Silver Ariel Award from Mexico's Academy of Film Arts and Sciences. In 2004 he became part of Mexico's National System of Art Creators, and in 2007 he received an Eréndira Award from the state of Michoacán Ministry of Culture, in recognition of his career.

Other works include Rarámuri: Pie Ligero (1994), Un poquito de… / A little of… (2003), Hapunda (2005), and ¿Y el agua? / And the Water? (2009), winner of the Best Animated Short Film at the Morelia Film Festival, Xáni Xépika (2008) and Interpretarte (2012). In addition to his film work, he has also worked as a playwright, theater director, and visual artist.