Fernanda on the big
FERNANDA, the famous little girl
detective, admirer of Sherlock Holmes and Hercules
Poirot, is the protagonist of a new digital feature
film released by the Cuban Film Institute’s (ICAIC)
The film Fernanda: El extraño
caso del Dr. X y Mr. Jai, (The strange case of
Dr. X and Mr. Jai) written and directed by Mario
Rivas, is the first feature length animated film
produced in Cuba since Más vampiros en La Habana
Fernanda is a methodical, perceptive
and very curious girl who loves detective stories
and admires great investigators like Sherlock Holmes,
created by Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie’s
The animated film about this self-educated
detective appears on the big screen after the
success of more than 20 13-minute shorts, and
several DVDs, of the series, generically named
In these shorts, Fernanda has
unraveled cases about costume parties and strange
disappearances of plants, carrots, ice cream and a
During a press conference at the
ICAIC Animation Studios, Rivas recalled that
Fernanda was created by his son Daniel. "I liked her
from the very first and told him I would continue to
develop her. And when I had already created five
principle characters, the idea of making Fernanda a
detective was born. This works well for the stories
we do since they are all different and each one
addresses a different investigation."
In the recently released 95-minute
film, the little investigator (with actress Irela
Bravo providing the voice) faces a series of
mysterious robberies of equipment belonging to young
inventors, and there is a new twist to the film –
Fernanda has an antagonist.
Rivas has created a character named
Fransisco who is a little Spaniard on vacation in
Cuba with his aunts, who "provides a very
entertaining situation in the story, because he
wants to help and Fernanda doesn’t want any help.
But, finally, they work together and all ends
happily between them."
Movie-goers encounter even more - a
direct reference to The Strange Case of
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis
Stevenson, adapted to the screen several times.
"A negative character is needed,
always the most difficult part in a Fernanda story,
since no child is bad. So a situation was created in
which a child promotes negative situations at a
particular moment, which are corrected in the end as
a lesson is learned. In this case, the boy has a
double personality and when the personality of Jai
emerges, he does bad things," Rivas explained.
Thus the animated film proposes a
case with a double personality, action adventures
and a sense of humor, the producer added, with many
special effects and detailed photographic work to
enhance the visual experience.
Those who follow Cuban cinema will
recall that Mario Rivas is no newcomer to animation,
but rather one of our master animators. From 1969
through 1973, he headed the ICAIC Animation
Department and devoted himself entirely to directing
the work there, including Pirata Pirateado;
El pececito sin color; Érase una abejita;
La invasión de los ratones; La niña y el
gatico; El elefante sin trompa; several
Elpidio Valdés episodes, such as Elpidio Valdés
ataca a Jutía Dulce and Elpidio Valdés y
Palmiche contra los Lanceros; El árbol de la
vida (Best animated short, 15th International
Festival of Films for for Children and Youth,
Montevideo, Uruguay, 2006) and El Bohío
(Coral Prize for Animation, New Latin American Film
Rivas reported that nine new
episodes for the Fernanda series have been
filmed and Fernanda: El extraño caso del Dr. X
y Mr. Jai, has been registered to
participate in this year’s New Latin American Film
Festival, scheduled for December 5-15 in Havana.
During the press conference, Esther
Hirzel, director of ICAIC Animation Studios reported
that fans won’t have to wait another decade for
another feature length animated film made in Cuba.
Scheduled for release in April, 2014, is the Spanish
co-production of Meñique, in 3D, directed by
Ernesto Padrón, "a marvelous, ambitious challenge,
with the privilege of music by Silvio Rodríguez."
Two others are also underway in
collaboration with Venezuela, Samuel H2O,
and Caporito, el guardián de la montaña.
The studios are continually adding
episodes for popular series, including Aventuras del
Capitán Plin; El Negrito Cimarrón; Elpidio Valdés;
Filminutos; Para curiosos and Pubertad.
Since its foundation in 1969, the
ICAIC Studios have never abandoned the elements
which characterize Cuban animation - the rhythm, the
palette of colors, the liveliness and music. These
are features which define the medium here.
Now a broad range of new aesthetics,
designs and styles, current trends and technology
allow creators to maintain these essential elements,
but with shades of the times.