Pablo Berger’s Robot Dreams got a huge awards season endorsement over the weekend when it won the European Film Award for best animated feature. Four of the last eight films to receive the honor have also scored feature Oscar nominations.
The film is adapted from Sara Varon’s graphic novel of the same name and offers up a colorful and lively version of a music-filled New York City in the 1980s. In the film, Dog gets tired of being alone and builds a robot companion. The two quickly become close friends before uncontrollable circumstances split them apart, and the two begin dreaming of their next encounter.
The film won Annecy’s Contrechamp competition, earned a special jury prize at Animation is Film, and won the audience award at Bucheon. In Spain, Robot Dreams beat out live-action competition to win best film at Sitges and is a favorite to take this year’s Spanish Academy Goya Award for an animated feature, where it’s also nominated for best adapted screenplay, original music, and editing.
Although Robot Dreams has found tremendous success at international festival’s, its profile in the states is still low. However, it was picked up at Cannes this year by indie distributor Neon, which has planned a wide release for the film sometime in 2024.
This year’s European Film Award animated feature nominees were:
- A Greyhound of a Girl, Enzo d’Alò (Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland, U.K., Latvia, Estonia, Germany)
- Chicken for Linda!, Chiara Malta and Sébastien Laudenbach (France, Italy)
- Robot Dreams, Pablo Berger (Spain, France)
- The Amazing Maurice, Toby Genkel (Germany, U.K.)
- White Plastic Sky, Tibor Bánóczkia and Sarolta Szabó (Hungary, Slovakia)
The 2023 European Film Award for an short, which mixes live-action and animated titles, went to the machinima film Hardly Working, created by a team of artists at Austria’s Total Refusal, including Susanna Flock, Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner, and Michael Stumpf.
The film uses footage from the hit video game Red Dead Redemption 2 to create a fly-on-the-wall style documentary about the lives of NPCs (non-player characters), creating a depressing analogy of life as a worker in a capitalist system. It’s exceptionally rare for machinima films, defined as animated filmmaking within a real-time virtual 3d environment, to be recognized by a major awards ceremony.
This year’s short film nominees were:
- 27, Flóra Anna Buda (France, Hungary)
- Aqueronte, Manuel Muñoz Rivas (Spain)
- Daydreaming So Vividly About our Spanish Holidays (La Herida Luminosa), Christian Avilés (Spain)
- Flores del Otro Patio, Jorge Cadena (Switzerland, Colombia)
- Hardly Working, Total Refusal: Susanna Flock, Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner and Michael Stumpf (Austria)
The European visual effects prize went to Félix Bergés and Laura Pedro for their work on J. A. Bayona’s Society of the Snow, about a plane that crashed in the Andes in 1972.