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Directing duo Nono Ayuso and Rodrigo Inada, known professionally as Nono + Rodrigo, have signed to global production studio Partizan for representation across the U.S., UK and France. Coming in with a diversity of unique professional and personal experiences and a penchant for socially-conscious subject matter, Nono + Rodrigo will further enhance Partizan’s reputation for forward-thinking creative work.
“We feel a duty as filmmakers to tell stories and make films that impact our viewers and inspire them to make change,” said Rodrigo. “ We know our partnership with Partizan, and their reputation for boundary-pushing and socially-conscious work, will take us in that direction.”
Partizan already has. For their first official project as a signed duo, Nono + Rodrigo directed a globe-spanning campaign for WhatsApp featuring Greek-Nigerian NBA basketball superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. The creative team at Transition NYC gave the directors freedom to develop the script beyond the initial brief.
Their ambition paid off: resulting in the 12-minute short film called Naija Odyssey, which premiered on Amazon Prime September 21st. The film, which centers around Giannis’ identity and immigrant story, is the exact sort of work this talented duo, both of whom are immigrants, set out to do together when they first met nearly three years ago.
Born in Spain and now based in London, in a previous life Nono traveled the world as an investigative journalist specializing in conflict zones. Only a quick while after he began making commercials on the side in 2020, he won himself a Vimeo Staff Pick for his short film, The Heartbeats of Memory, which was also shortlisted for a Cannes Young Directors Award.
That same year, Rodrigo, a Japanese-Brazilian film director with a rich background in art direction, cinematography and post-production, received acclaim for his short CIRCA 2020 and a Vimeo Staff Pick for his short film, IARA. Their Vimeo laurels in common, Nono + Rodrigo became interested in each other’s work and met for coffee in London. Quickly, they found they were walking similar personal and professional paths as immigrants and non-native English speakers breaking into the UK advertising and short-form content industry. Within their natural friendship, they saw an opportunity for collaboration—not only for creative value, but also to tell stories that reach a broader, more culturally-diverse audience.
“We shared a hunger to find our voices,” the directors state together. “It’s not as easy for immigrants and we understood each other’s challenges, and the resilience born from that. We really connected over our parallel histories. Our partnership was born from a sense of community.”
Leaning on Rodrigo’s knack for bold, dynamic visual storytelling and Nono’s ability to shape stirring narratives, the pair produced their first project together later that year: The creepy, surreal music video “Cuenta Lo,” featuring the West London-based and Irish-born singer and rapper Biig Piig engaging in a smarmy poker game. Keeping up the music video momentum, Nono + Rodrigo collaborated with Kehlani to compose a series of dreamlike vignettes featuring throwback pop diva choreography for the visual for “Up at Night” feat. Justin Bieber.
It was their epic short, Terre Cene, which garnered the pair a Gold Screen in this year's YDA category Changing the World Frame by Frame. An experimental short film commissioned by The Karman Project, Terre Cene is a meditation on the concepts of time, space and the urgency of climate change. Shot on 16mm against a backdrop of brutalist architecture, the message of awareness-through-artistry that Nono + Rodrigo achieved won the film the Gold at 1.4 Awards, Grand Prize from the Rhode Island Festival, and Best Film in the Korean competition at Energy Film Festival.
“Neither of us came into the industry with any filmmaking connections or resources,” explains Rodrigo. “Our style has been to just make things any way possible, even if we don’t have the money for it. That spirit is inherent in our personalities.”
“We have a rule: There is no ego,” explains Nono. “If an idea isn’t working, we say fuck it. The film always remains on top.”
As for their signing with Partizan—Nono + Rodrigo are a natural fit for the company, which is known for finding new talent and telling consequential stories with innovative filmcraft.
“Nono + Rodrigo are the type of directors we love to nurture at Partizan. They’re radically talented filmmakers who challenge our understanding of what’s possible,” said Partizan founder Georges Bermann. “They are masters at developing very specific worlds across short and longer formats. Above all, their unique journeys have brought them together in this moment where creating stories for the screen is their way of life.”