In the gloom of the cinema, 200 children find their seats and enjoy free popcorn. The film is about to start. To most of them, going to the cinema is a great novelty. During the 80 minutes of film Turma da Mônica: Uma Aventura no Tempo (Mônica’s Gang: An Adventure in Time), the kids laugh, whisper and have fun.
At the end, there is great applause for the new Mônica’s Gang movie. "I loved the huge screen, it is very different from seeing a movie at home," says an enthusiastic David Alves da Silva, aged 10.
Another detail that David loved was seeing the creator of Mônica’s Gang, Maurício de Sousa, up close. The cartoonist talked to the children before the session. "If I had known he was coming, I would have brought my comics for him to autograph," said the boy.
The children are part of the Nossa Senhora do Bom Parto Social Center, which counts on 56 units in the eastern area of the city of São Paulo. The children participate in extracurricular activities that go from artistic workshops to sports activities and visits to museums in the city.
Also present were ten adolescents who participated in project "Tecer o Futuro" (Weaving the Future), a program developed by the Social Center aimed at collecting information about youths who have been infected by the HIV virus.
The first experience of these children in the movies on Thursday, February 15, was possible thanks to a partnership between Maurício de Sousa Produções and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which supports the Social Center, and the Cinemark chain of movie theaters.
"It is always good to bring these children to the cinema, simply for the fact that they are given the experience. And who knows if they may be inspired by it and become cartoonists, screenplay writers or something in the area," stated Sousa.
The new Mônica’s Gang movie was made specially for the cinema, after a decade of films made for television and DVD. Apart from that, the production establishes the first partnership between Maurício de Sousa Produções and Buena Vista International, the distributing arm of Disney. The idea is to launch it in Latin America in the near future.
While promoting Mônica’s Gang: An Adventure in Time, Maurício de Sousa is already working on a new film. This time, the main character will be dinosaur Horácio. "It will be done in computer graphics and will also be for the cinema. It should be ready in two years," he adds.
The characters developed by Maurício de Sousa have already reached the world. Today, his various products arrive in around 30 countries. In the Arab countries, cartoon strips with character Ronaldinho Gaúcho are printed in local papers.
But if it depends on Maurício de Sousa, the whole of his gang should be there in the future. In an interview three years ago, the cartoonist had already expressed his desire of publishing the stories in Arabic.
In Europe, the Gang’s products have already arrived in Portugal, France, Greece and Spain. In the latter case, there is a special line of Ronaldinho Gaúcho character products, as the player is one of the stars of football team Barcelona. In Italy, television channel RAI has been exhibiting the cartoon since 2004.
The first characters developed by Maurício de Sousa were Franklin and his dog Blu, in 1959. But it was in 1970, when he created character Mônica, that the Gang grew and became famous all over Brazil. "They are now national heritage," says the father of the Gang, with no exaggeration.
In Brazil, his creations have already become dolls, games and even amusement parks. There are over 3,000 products inspired on his characters. Today, 150 artists work with the cartoonist in the production of his stories.
Mônica’s Gang Site