Portugal, France, UK


Every day, a father and his son jump with a parachute from their vertiginous cold house, attached to a cliff, to go to the village on the ground, far away where they sell the ice they produce daily.

Director's Statement

Something that has always fascinated me about animation cinema is the freedom it offers us to create something from scratch. Surrealistic and bizarre scenarios and realities that can be used as a metaphorical tool to talk about something that is common to us in our more “real” reality.
Like my two other films, Ice Merchants was born out of an image/scenario that came to my mind and stuck with me. Most of those images “appear” while I’m dreaming or about to fall asleep, although sometimes they also come to mind during the day. Then, I spend a good amount of time “day dreaming” and exploring that reality through drawings and writing, until I feel like I found something that resonates with me. This is my only way of doing location scouting, since my film’s locations don’t actually exist in real life. And that’s when the ideas for the actual film’s narrative start to occur, that naturally end up covering topics that are personal and dear to me.

My first two films were more focused on psychological conditions that I relate to, projecting myself on the narrative’s protagonists. ICE MERCHANTS covers a more humane story (in my view) about family connection, simple daily rituals and routines, studying them metaphorically as a foundation of human relationships in the long run. All three of my films end up covering loneliness and solitude, as well as some sort of conflict between the protagonists and the realities they exist in, which I guess makes sense because I end up treating those realities as active characters since the beginning of the film’s production.

Aesthetically, I always tend to incorporate my interest in strong shadows, extreme camera angles, and limited colour palettes in my films. There’s also an “on-going” treatment of the film’s sound- track and sound-design, that I started working on since the beginning of the film’s production, alongside the animation (sometimes even before).

ICE MERCHANTS is a family drama set in an impossible reality, brought to life with the collaboration of the most amazingly talented and hardworking team of artists that I could have asked for. I couldn’t have been luckier.

Director's Biography

João Gonzalez (*1996) is a Portuguese film director, animator, illustrator, and a musician with classical training in piano. Recipient of a scholarship from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, he did a master's degree at the Royal College of Art (UK), after finishing his BA at ESMAD (Portugal). In these institutions he made 2 multi award-winning films, NESTOR and THE VOYAGER. In 2022, he became the first Portuguese animation filmmaker to be awarded at Festival de Cannes, winning the Jury Prize for Best Short film in competition at the Critics Week with ICE MERCHANTS.
He has a big interest in combining his musical background with his practice in authorial animation, always taking the role of composer and sometimes instrumentalist in the films he directs, occasionally setting them to a live performance.


2019 - NESTOR, Short
2017 - THE VOYAGE, Short

Cast & Crew

Directed by: João Gonzalez

Written by: João Gonzalez

Produced by: Bruno Caetano, Michaël Proença

Cinematography: João Gonzalez

Editing: João Gonzalez

Original Score: João Gonzalez

Sound: Ed Trousseau, Ricardo Real

Animation: Ala Nuno, João Gonzalez

Nominations and Awards

  • European Short Film 2022
  • Short Film Candidates 2022