Spain: Top Toon Titles to Track

Spain’s Revelations showcase has focused on shorts, not features, unveiling the huge breadth of animation talent and techniques in Spain.

Some shorts directors are already stars, such as Alberto Mielgo with the Oscar-winner “The Windshield Wiper.” Diego Porral, director of “Leopoldo From the Bar,” served as animation lead on “Love, Death + Robots” episode “Kill Team Kill.”

Standouts among new projects in Revelations included “Latente,” a Next Lab Generation winner from Carlos Zaragoza and Aurora Jiménez, and Martín Romero’s “To Bird or Not to Bird,” from Uniko and Abano Producións, which is a 2D short made largely in black and white featuring an angst-ridden clock cuckoo and other birds beset by environmental destruction.

Revelations climaxes with a special screening, the first in a cinema, of “Sith,” Rodrigo Blaas’ episode in Disney+’s “Star Wars: Visions.”

As for features, here are 10 toon titles to track. Further international co-productions – Mr. Miyagi’s Films’ “Juul,” Jeremie Degruson“The Inseparables,” co-produced by A Contracorriente Films – could also have very easily made the cut.  

“Dalia and the Red Book,” (David Bisbano)

Dalia attempts to conclude her famous author father’s unfinished book, facing off with its characters. An Argentina (Vista Sur, FilmSharks), Spain (Doce/Mr. Miyagi), Peru (Golem) and Brazil (Cine2) production underscoring the market potential of bigger more mainstream propositions, with sales to The Walt Disney Co./Star Distribution for Latin America and Germany, Russia/CIS and Taiwan closed. Sales: FilmSharks.

“Decorado,” (Alberto Vázquez)

Vazquez’s highly awaited follow-up to “Unicorn Wars,” a colorized adaptation of his admired 2016 short, cocking a snoop at some iconic animation characters, from Uniko and Abano. 

“Dragonkeeper,” (Salvador Simó, Li Jiang­ping)

Set in the Han Dynasty, a young slave girl’s fantasy adventure which weighs in as the biggest Spanish animation play of the year, budgeted at $28 million, based on weighty IP – the first title in the best-selling trilogy of Carole Wilkinson – and produced by Movistar Plus+,  Atresmedia Cine (“Klaus”) and China Film Animation. Sales: SC Films.

“Girl and Wolf,” (Roc Espinet)

Espinet adapts his graphic novel about a girl who joins a wolf pack, rebelling against her own village. The animators are currently creating animatics to commence animation this summer. Sales: Latido.

“Robot Dreams,” (Pablo Berger)

Playing as a special screening, the first animation film by admired live action maverick Berger, director of Goya best picture winner “Blancanieves,” a 2D adaptation of  Sara Varón’s winsome friendship-themed graphic novel, which was Neon’s first acquisition at this year’s Cannes. Sales: Elle Driver.

“Rock Bottom,” (Maria Trenor)

Inspired by the early life and acclaimed 1973 art rock album of ex-Soft Machine vocalist-drummer Robert Wyatt, “Rock Bottom” marks the feature debut of Trenor. A fiction tale, it uses stylized rotoscoping and pictoric 2D frame-by-frame animation. Its $21,000 Netflix award at Spain’s Mianima and selection for Cannes’ Annecy Animation Showcase bodE well for its future.

“Sultana’s Dream,” (Isabel Helguera)

Backed by Uniko and Abano, both behind “Unicorn Wars,” “Sultana’s Dream” was one of the best received titles at Malaga’s Animation Day showcase in March, a feminist tale ranging from 1905 to present its three parts animated distinctly in 2D watercolors, cutouts and collage and 3D. 

“SuperKlaus,” (aka “4 Days Before Christmas,” Steve Majaury, Andrea Sebastián)

Produced by Spain’s 3Doubles Producciones and Capitán Araña and Canada’s PVP Media, a Christmas comic adventure romp, featuring a deluded Santa who thinks he’s a superhero, which is punching strong sales. Sales: Pink Parrot Media.

“Tender Metalheads,” (Carlos Pérez-Reche, Joan Tomas)

Selected for Annecy’s prestigious Contrechamp sidebar in June, inspired by the well-received Catalan TV series about two high-school students on the drab Barcelona outer radius whose only escape in life is heavy metal. 

“They Shot the Piano Player,” (Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal)

From Trueba and Mariscal, behind Academy Award-nominated “Chico & Rita,” narrated by Jeff Goldblum, a portrait of young Brazilian piano virtuoso Francisco Tenório Jr. which captures the joy of Bossa Nova and the tragedy of totalitarian Latin America. Dazzling at Annecy last year as a work in progress, it is expected to bow at a big late-summer fest. Sales: Film Constellation

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