Spain Celebrates its Very Best with ‘Revelations!’ Animation Showcase in Cannes

Spanish animation shows off its serious side in Cannes’ “Revelations!” showcase, dedicated to new shorts both by promising beginners and acclaimed filmmakers, such as Alberto Mielgo, who scored an Academy Award for “The Windshield Wiper.”

In June, four of the presented titles will also head to Annecy: María Lorenzo’s “Fashion Victims 2.0,” “Lost at Sea,” directed by Lucija Stojevic and Andrés Bartos, Pablo Río’s “Conej Steps Out” and Carla Pereira and Juanfran Jacinto’s “All Is Lost.”

“Animators, or just artists in general, tend to reflect on their times. Some of these films were born during the pandemic and yes, there is this melancholy to them. They are tackling multiple serious subjects,” says animation curator Carolina López Caballero.

That includes elderly suicide, like in the case of Diego Porral’s tender “Leopoldo from the Bar,” where a lonely man walks through ever-changing streets of Madrid accompanied by a massive pigeon.

“It’s a very, very serious topic, but he talks about it by introducing a comedic character. That’s the power of animation – you can make these things feel bearable,” she adds.

Porral notes: “Animation provides us with infinite ways to tell a story. We can be creative, subtle, surreal. Here, we used this ironic tone to talk about loneliness, which might have not worked as well in live action.”

“It’s a great moment for personal Spanish films,” he says. “Every year, more and more talent which moved away for work are returning to Spain, telling their own stories and excelling in doing so.”

Just like Emmy-winning Rodrigo Blaas, who will close the presentation with “Sith”: his episode for Disney+ “Star Wars: Visions.”

“Spanish animators have been working for Pixar, DreamWorks – you name it. Rodrigo is one of them and I am so happy he returned home. He made this film from Madrid,” says Caballero, who also mentions “Unicorn Wars” creator Alberto Vázquez, currently working on his third feature.

“It’s an important, interesting time for our animation. We are celebrating films that are completely independent, like ‘Visions of Self,’ but also ‘Star Wars: Visions.’ There is something poetic about it because at the end of the day, that’s what they all are: Unique visions,” she notes, adding that while A-list festivals are expanding their animation sections, big platforms are also paying attention.

“Seeing big players like Netflix invest in something like [stop-motion animated anthology] ‘The House’ makes this community very happy. People have finally noticed that short form animation gives you incredible freedom.”

Freedom to talk about the most intimate subjects as well, as proven by Carmen Córdoba’s Goya nominated “Roped” about a mother and a daughter.

“It was my way of dealing with two huge things that were happening in my life at the same time: Four months after I became a mother to twins, my own mother confessed she had terminal cancer,” says the director, admitting that making the film has been therapeutic. She is now working on the script of a feature based in the same universe. 

“I felt these ambitious topics needed a very simple and honest drawing style [in order] to move the audience,” she observes, while other colleagues finally feel empowered to experiment. Be it by picking up traditional techniques, such as stop-motion, or combining them with documentary elements, like in the case of “The Last Mouflon.”

Omar Razzak Martinez, who co-directs with Shira Ukrainitz, still notices some struggles, however: “The main problem is that the public itself is still not used to watching animated movies because they are considered ‘childish,’” he says. María Lorenzo – behind “Fashion Victims 2.0” – notes that while the variety of approaches and techniques “keep animation fresh,” the real challenge is about reaching the audience.

“There is a boom in animated documentaries, but how many years have passed since [Ari Folman’s 2008] ‘Waltz with Bashir’? What is changing is the support and visibility of animation in cultural policies, and that is clearly increasing,” adds Martinez.

“To Bird or Not to Bird” helmer Martín Romero adds: “The biggest challenge is to get a project financed and [to make sure] that all the people involved can receive a fair remuneration for their work. We need to continue to support culture at the institutional level so that it can grow professionally.”

The Windshield WiperCredit: Alberto Milego

New Spanish Animation Short Films will be held within the framework of Animation Day, taking place on May 21.

The lineup: 

“All Is Lost,” (“Todo está perdido”)

Directors: Carla Pereira, Juanfran Jacinto

Production Companies: Mansalva Films, Mammut

In this deranged comedy – styled as a TV sitcom – everything that is not supposed to happen at home, does. But nobody seems to realize how bizarre their situation is, accepting every macabre oddity that comes their way. Previously, the duo made “Metamorphosis,” while Pereira worked as assistant animator on “Isle of Dogs.” 

“All My Colors,” (“Tots els meus colors”)

Directors: Anna Solanas, Marc Riba

Production Companies: I+G Stop Motion

Another stop-motion proposition, this time directed towards younger audiences, sees a little girl trying to deal with grief. Although her mother’s death literally strips her of her colors, with the help of some woodland creatures she will try to find them again. Last year, the directors delivered “El matí del Sr. Xifró.”

“Conej Steps Out,” (“La gran cita de Conej”)

Director: Pablo Río

Production Company: DigiPen Institute of Technology Europe

Coming Soon: A Glimpse into New Projects 

Conej is clearly ambitious: after all, he is building a rocket for his girlfriend to finally go to the moon. What could possibly go wrong? Referencing retro animation, for example the aesthetics of the Fleischer brothers, this student short film is advertised as “a treat for classic cartoon lovers”. Selected for Annecy.

“Fashion Victims 2.0,”

Director: María Lorenzo

Producer: Enrique Millán

In this politically charged short, María Lorenzo brings Spanish street art to life – done by ESCIF in Valencia – condemning child labor in the fashion industry. “The mural was painted in front of a Primark store. It’s tremendously shocking to everybody,” she notes. “I wanted to bring its message to the worldwide audience.” 

“The Fence,” (“La valla”)

Director: Sam

Production Company: Conflictivos Productions

Coming Soon: A Glimpse into New Projects 

Currently in production, the film revolves around the idea that “migration is not a crime,” told through stories of a family who seeks a better future and those whose job is that of guarding the border. Sam, aka Samuel Ortí Martí, has also delivered the likes of “The Werepig” and 2014 “Possessed.”

“The Last Mouflon,” (“El último muflón”)

Directors: Shira Ukrainitz, Omar Al Abdul Razzak

Production Company: Tourmalet Films

Coming Soon: A Glimpse into New Projects

“I think that graphic novels have anticipated this ability to talk about complex realities through illustration. Now, due to the advancement of technology, it’s happening in cinema [too],” explains Razzak, who focuses on mouflons’ desperate efforts to survive their extermination on the island of Tenerife.

“Latent” (“Latente”),

Director: Carlos Zaragoza, who also produces, and Aurora Jiménez

Coming Soon: A Glimpse into New Projects

A story about grief and loss, “Latent” – currently in development – deals with memories of our loved ones that remain, indeed, latent within ourselves. This Next Lab Generation winner, awarded in March, comes from a duo that also worked on “Vivo” or “The Tale of Despereaux.”

“Leopoldo From the Bar,” (“Leopoldo el del bar”)

Director: Diego Porral

Producer: Joaquín Garralda

After his favorite bar goes out of business, Leopoldo feels lonelier than ever, accompanied only by a chatty, giant pigeon. “We did have a couple of people in mind when writing, but the abandonment of our elders is a common problem in our society,” says Porral. “We didn’t have to go far to see it.”

“Lost at Sea,” (“Perdido en el mar”)

Spain, Myanmar

Directors: Lucija Stojevic, Andrés Bartos

Production Company: Noon Films

Soon heading to Annecy, the film zooms onto a Rohingya man fleeing persecution in Myanmar alongside others who fear for their lives. As the audience gradually gets to know his memories and the reasons behind his sudden departure, he keeps on hearing the song his mother used to sing.

“Point and Line to the Cosmos,” (“Punto y línea sobre el cosmos”)

Spain, Estonia

Director and producer: Pablo Ballarín

Coming Soon: A Glimpse into New Projects

In this international co-production, Ballarín – described by the organizers as a disciple of Estonian cartoonist Pritt Pärn – establishes a dialogue between the past and the future, sci-fi and dinosaurs. The director is also behind “The Piece of Tail in the Mouth of the Snake that Bites Its Own Tail.”

“Star Wars: Visions. Sith,”

Spain, U.S.

Director: Rodrigo Blaas

Emmy-winning director and animator Blaas – who was the showrunner on Guillermo del Toro’s “Trollhunters” ­– takes on a former Sith apprentice, leading a peaceful, but isolated life. When her old master tracks her down, she is confronted by the past. Airing on Disney+.

“Supervivencia anormala,” (“Biziraupen anormala”)

Director: Izibene Oñederra

Production Companies: Sultana Films, Izibene Oñederra

Coming Soon: A Glimpse into New Projects

One of the great Basque experimental animation figures – behind “Lursaguak. Scenes from Life” or “Couplets for an Everlasting Eve” – Oñederra delivers an expressionist and distinctive work that explores social inequalities through ideas that has emerged during the 2020 pandemic lockdown.

“Roped,” (“Amarradas”)

Director: Carmen Córdoba

Production Company: La Chula Films

In her Goya-nominated film, Córdoba explores a complex bond between a mother and a daughter. “For me, motherhood has been a process of self-knowledge and reflection about womanhood and gender issues,” she states. “Animation is sparking interest and we have to use its narrative tools to address any topic, including this one.”


“Visions of Self,” (“Visiones interiores”)

Director and producer: María Médem

María Medem creates an oneiric world where titular visions and music merge. “I try to express emotions and atmospheres that are difficult to put into words. It’s easier to transmit and explore that mystery through images and color,” she says. “It’s a good time for experimentation and a more personal approach in Spain. In all areas, but also in animation.”

“The Windshield Wiper,” (“El limpiaparabrisas”)

USA, Spain

Director: Alberto Mielgo

Production Company: Pinkman TV and Leo Sanchez

This Oscar-winning animation shows fragments of various lives in a series of apparently unconnected vignettes, all attempting to form an answer to the ultimate question: What is love? Mielgo also won Emmy awards for his work on Disney’s “Tron: Uprising” and Netflix anthology “Love, Death & Robots.”

“To Bird or Not to Bird,”

Director: Martín Romero

Production Companies: Uniko, Abano Productions

Coming Soon: A Glimpse into New Projects 

With an extra helping of absurd humor, Romero explores the dilemmas of contemporary societies through the many struggles of birds. “What I am interested in is finding poetry in each project,” he admits. “Something that allows me to tell everyday stories [through the use of] imagination and fantasy.”

To Bird or Not to Bird

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