Quirino Cristiani

the man who anticipated Disney

Quirino Cristiani was born on July 2nd, 1896 , in Santa Giuletta Village (Pavia – Italy) son of Luigi Cristiani and Adele Martinotti.

His first home was exactly in the same municipal building, where his father worked as municipal secretary; then the family moved to Pavia in a house nearby the church of Saint Michael.


Between November 1899 and January 1900, the working relationship between the City Council of Santa Giuletta and Luigi Cristiani broke off , after a series of tensions.

Probably, since some time, the family had been considering the possibility to leave Europe and reach the Americas therefore Luigi Cristiani, after receiving the work clearance, did not hesitate to buy a transatlantic ticket and moved to Buenos Aires. Later he sent the tickets to his family, who was still in Pavia.

On April 11th, 1900 Quirino Cristiani , along with his brothers and his mother departed from Genoa Port on an old steamship. He was only four years old. That little boy, among many other emigrants who embarked by boat that day, will become the pioneer of animation cinema.


In Buenos Aires, where his father worked as administrator in the Italian Hospital, he spent a very happy childhood and adolescence. When he was sixteen years old, he entered the Academy of Arts, and later he became a self-taught learner. He began publishing his caricatures drawings on some magazines, he met and worked with another Italian, coming from the town of Asti, Federico Valle who lived in Buenos Aires since 1911.Here he founded the Valle Film Production Company specialized in documentaries.


Quirino Cristiani was the director of El Apóstol the first full-length cartoon in the film history (1917).

He was the father of the first Latin American educational and scientific animation films and the first animated advertising films of South-America were invented by him. Another prestigious record is attributable to him, was the realization of the first sounded full-length feature animation in the world: Peludópolis (1931).

Honour is due to him for having formed, in his casting studio, different professional entertainers who proved decisive to improve the future of this branch in the cinematography.


On November 29th, 1981 accompanied by his son, he returned to his native Santa Giuletta Village under an official invitation of the City and of the Province of Pavia. He was 85 years old and probably his return to Italy was a touching and exciting experience indeed. It was the first time he was flying and the first time he saw Italy again. When he left he picked up a handful of land to bring on his way back to Argentina.

He died in Bernal (Argentina ) on August 2nd, 1984.


Bibliography: GIANNALBERTO BENDAZZI, L’Uomo che anticipò Disney. Il cinema d’animazione di Quirino Cristiani, Latina, Tunué, 2007.


In 2007, a documentary on Quirino Cristiani’s life entitled The Mistery of the First Animated Movies, won the Oriundi Prize at the Latin American Festival of Cinema in Trieste (Italy), it is a very interesting story where shootings and testimonials (in the Italian language) came also from Santa Giuletta and Pavia.

Producer and director of the documentary is Gabriele Zucchelli born in Pavia, who moved to London in 1994. He is a great talent of the animated film. He has created and has collaborated at a very high level on important works such as Aliens vs Predator, Harry Potter 3, two musical animated films with Paul McCartney and more.

el mono

frame of El Mono Relojero

it was realized in 1938


Cristiani Q. in Santa Giuletta

November 29th 1981


Cristiani Q. next to his creation:

a film poster