Fans of surrealism and social documentaries, take note: Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles is hitting North American theaters on Friday. Salvador Simó’s new animated feature centers on Luis Buñuel, the celebrated Spanish filmmaker, and the unlikely circumstances in which he made his 1933 documentary Land Without Bread. The film, which currently owns a 100% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, is being distributed by GKIDS.
The film, a Spanish-Dutch co-production, recounts Buñuel’s expedition to Las Hurdes, an area of Spain so destitute that it couldn’t afford bread. The filmmaker intended to depict the region’s poor living conditions, albeit through the lens of surrealism, the movement in which he’d made his name. In the event, he and his team staged some of their footage, with a view to exaggerating stereotypes about the locals.
Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles is animated in a 2d style partly inspired by Fermín Solís’s graphic novel of the same name, on which it is based. The narrative is interspersed with live-action clips from the original documentary. Animation was mainly handled by The Glow Animation Studio, which is based not far from Las Hurdes; the studio was founded by Simó and the film’s producers, Manuel Cristobal and José María Fernández de Vega. Other companies involved in the production are Sygnatia, Submarine, and Hampa.
After premiering last October at GKIDS’s Animation Is Film Festival in L.A., where it won a special jury prize, Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles embarked on a distinguished festival run. It picked up an award for its score at Annecy, and was nominated for best feature at both the Quirinos and the Emiles. Cartoon Brew wrote about the film and debuted an exclusive teaser last year.
“Luis Buñuel constantly pushed the visual and storytelling boundaries of cinema,” said GKIDS president David Jesteadt upon acquiring the film in December. “It’s only fitting that the story of such a unique and legendary artist would be told through animation, in a wonderful film that uses the medium to its full potential.”
The film will play in L.A.’s Nuart Theatre and New York’s Quad Cinema starting on Friday, followed by a roll out across 16 states and Canada in the following weeks. For full screening details, head to GKIDS’s website.