Spanish animation is having a moment. The success of Klaus, which was animated at Sergio Pablos Animation Studios in Madrid, set the tone at the start of this year, when it picked up an Oscar nomination and seven Annie Awards. And now a presentation of future animated titles at Ventana Sur, Latin America’s largest movie market, the industry is ending the year on a high.
In collaboration with Weird Market and Animation! Ventana Sur (the market’s animation strand), the Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts of Spain (ICAA) presents a showcase of appealing projects including two series (Masked Cinderella and Villa Fábula), three feature-length projects in development (Girl & Wolf, Hanna and the Monsters, and Sierra Dragón), and the work-in-progress Unicorn Wars — the first European animated movie to be chosen by Annecy Festival for the Animation! WIPs program, which the festival curates.
Teddy bears, unicorns, a masked Cinderella, a wolf-girl, adventures in a city of monsters, a wolf-dog brought up among cats who must reconcile two kingdoms in order to avoid war, and a group of friends who are visited by magical creatures when they behave badly: the projects included in this initiative cover all kinds of stories, styles, and techniques. They have something for everybody.
In words of Weird Market director Jose Luis Farias: “Our mission at Weird Market is to find new IPs and help the best talent to shine. We spend the whole year searching for unique jewels, then we act as a booster for many projects that later journey internationally. From this thorough work comes the selection that we proudly present at Animation! together with ICAA.”
This event, a series of video presentations of the projects coupled with speeches by the organizers, is the fruit of a collaboration between ICAA, Weird Market, and Animation! Ventana Sur. Set in motion in 2019, this three-way collaboration led to two Spanish animation projects being presented within the framework of this market.
The presentation, which took place on November 30, is still available for badgeholders on the Ventana Sur 2020 platform — see here.
More information about the projects, directors, and production companies can be found in the New Spanish Animation! Showcase dossier.
Teddy bears and unicorns have been at war for as long as anyone can remember. Lieutenant Bluet craves unicorn blood because, according to the prophecy, it confers eternal beauty. A teddy bear regiment leaves the training camp for a mission that will end in a brutal and disastrous final battle.
Unicorn Wars is the second animated feature film by Alberto Vázquez, a hugely prolific Spanish animation director with a high international profile. Mixing elements of fantasy and war movies, it deals with issues such as the protection of the environment and the absurdity of armed conflicts.
Unicorn Wars is the first European animated movie to be chosen by Annecy for an Animation! WIP. It is the first time that this section broadens its selection criteria to the Ibero-American context. Unicorn Wars is produced by two Spanish companies, Uniko and Abano Producciones, together with France’s Autour de Minuit. The film will be ready by mid-2022.
Chica y Lobo (Girl & Wolf)
Paula’s simple life changes after the bloody irruption of the wolves. A spark ignites a conflict between men and wolves. Paula must fight between these two worlds. In her mysterious adventure, she will encounter soulless hunters, wild spirits, and a race of wolves older than man.
On her journey, Paula will face her childhood traumas and learn to embrace her dark side. She will manage to create peace between the humans and the wolves, and also inside herself. She will end up as the new leader of the pack and will learn she is both Girl and Wolf.
Directed by Roc Espinet, Chica y Lobo is an adaptation of a best-selling comic book that was translated into four languages. It is produced by Sygnatia (Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles, Wrinkles) and Hampa Studio, with Latido Films as the sales agent. It was named best transmedia project in last year’s edition of Weird Market. This promising project mixes adventure, mystery, and action, with a Halloween atmosphere.
Cenicienta Enmascarada (Masked Cinderella)
Everybody knows who Cinderella is. We’ve all heard thousands of times the story of the wicked stepmother and the glass slipper. But in Masked Cinderella the girl is a teenager who thinks and acts like a 21st-century girl. For her, as for our audience, everything is difficult and urgent, and she can’t wait for a fairy to come along to solve her problems.
Our Cinderella lives in a magical world where characters from classic fairy tales live and interact. She studies at the incredible Brothers Grimm High School with unique classmates like the rebellious Little Red Riding Hood, the antisocial Beast, and the Little Mermaid, a famous influencer princess. What’s more, she lives with a foster family made up of her airhead stepmother and awful stepsisters.
At the beginning, Cinderella doesn’t know her past and where she came from, but she soon finds her calling: to become the Masked Cinderella and defend her wonderful fairytale kingdom from villains, monsters, and injustice. From that moment on, her family and high school become her cover, and she goes from being just a girl to a famous and much-loved heroine.
And she’s not alone. The young sorcerer’s apprentice Merlin joins forces with her, and together they have exciting adventures full of fun. Unfortunately they’re still learning and are often pounded by trolls, trampled by giants, or turned into pumpkins.
Directed by Myriam Ballesteros and produced by Mondo TV Iberoamérica and MB Producciones, this series (budget €6.5 million) combines various appealing elements: a passion for classic stories, superheroes, and a parody of our real world. This formula is easily adapted to worldwide audiences and to all ages. This, together with the multiple possibilities for transmedia development, gives the series an enormous commercial potential.
Hanna y Los Monstruos (Hanna and the Monsters)
Monsterville is a town where most monsters live. They are fed up with humans and they hide from them. But one day, Hanna (4) crosses to their world, breaching Monsterville’s own security. After this initial scare, the monsters will have to fight their worst enemies: Gargol and Ciclop, two monsters willing to use Hanna to close the gates to the outside world forever, even if that means leaving Hanna trapped in Monsterville for good.
Hanna and the Monsters is a film directed by Lorena Ares, and produced by Doce Entertainment and Mr. Miyagi Films. The latter is a versatile production company with experience in feature films such as El Hoyo as well as in short films and animation, and with a long history of collaboration with Latin America.
This film is an animated feature for boys and girls from four to six years old, but it deals with universal themes. Its starting point is that being different enriches society, and so it incorporates many different characters: a hypochondriac Yeti, a monster who’s a compulsive eater …
This way, the story is close to the reality of the audience, since we all have fears to overcome. That universality gives the project the potential to travel around the world. This is a film about what binds us together, rather than what separates us; a hymn to tolerance and respect, but also great entertainment for the whole family.
The film is made in 3d but with a 2d aesthetic, taking advantage of advanced technology while at the same time bringing the audience into the world of illustrations and dreams.
The pact between Lynxes and Wolves is shattering, endangering the magical forest they swore to protect. Elm, a wolfdog raised by felines, must reconcile the two kingdoms to avoid war, discovering his true identity along the way. As the Prince of Wolves, he will cross the Sierra Dragon to seek help to defeat his half-brother Shadow, who is being manipulated by a sinister being that longs for revenge and decay. Elm doesn’t know that the key to victory is already traveling by his side: Lane the Lynx, his childhood friend who has the power to rewrite the history of the Forest.
Sierra Dragón is directed by Pepe Sánchez Alonso and produced by La Fiesta PC, a production company that follows the tradition of 2d animation while making use of new production tools.
The film is a reinvention of several Spanish legends. The main theme is the importance of telling stories, since they are tools to discover who we are and where we come from or even where we want to go, but they can also be a powerful way to manipulate others. It is a subject of enormous relevance in the era of misinformation and fake news in which we live, where we do not know what is true and what is not — this is what happens to the hero of the story.
The film is aimed mainly at teenagers but the different layers of the story make it enjoyable for people of different ages. The project has been selected in forums such as Cartoon Movie and Weird Market.
Villa Fábula is about the lives of several children in a remote town. The series aims to instil a set of values using fantastic elements: “children who don’t brush their teeth will be attacked by the Teeth Demons,” “those who don’t respect nature will be judged by the forest spirits,” etc.
As the season progresses, the children will discover something much bigger than they could have ever imagined: a top-secret military base, some paranormal investigators new in town, people acting strangely, and other mysteries. The children will investigate these things until they get to the heart of the matter.
This 2d-animated series consists of 20 ten-minute episodes, which address important issues in children’s lives while trying to teach them important values using fantasy and mystery. The project aims to return to the spirit of fun, didactic series such as Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. Villa Fábula is directed by Victor Marin and produced by Invictus Designs Productions.
Spain is strong in animation!
The year 2020 started on a very positive note for Spanish animation, with Sergio Pablos Animation Studios receiving an Oscar nomination and seven Annie Awards for the feature Klaus (which was also nominated at the European Film Awards). Despite the delicate pandemic situation, companies in the animation sector in Spain have continued to work and have maintained jobs at a very high level.
As Nico Matji, president of trade body Diboos, stated earlier in the year, “The animation and visual effects industry in Spain, although affected by the global pandemic like the rest of the cultural sector, has demonstrated its strength and capacity to recover in this crisis. We have been able to move to remote working with relative ease because we are eminently digital companies, accustomed to constantly learning and innovating.” The selection of works in progress above is certainly a good example of this.
Weird Market (formerly 3D Wire) is the most important professional animation, video game, and new media market in Spain, and one of the most important in Europe. From its 12th edition, held this year, it is now about much more than animation, video games, and new media, broadening to new sectors such as board games and comics. That is why it has become Weird Market, a new name that welcomes great ideas and IPs regardless of origin.
It has a unique perspective, seeing all these sectors as a single industry sector in synergy, developing and growing together with new participants and formats. Weird Market is a professional meeting point with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, which pays special attention to young talents, new ways of telling stories, and what’s next in terms of distribution and innovation.
In its last edition, with a hybrid format, more than 200 buyers watched project pitches and short films, 12 animation companies held more than 800 recruitment interviews, and the online conferences and presentations surpassed 50,000 views. Among the short films and projects, the 2020 catalogue was composed of 401 titles from 39 countries, and 59 projects were presented by their creators. For more information, head to the event’s website.
Animation! at Ventana Sur Latam Audiovisual Market is an exclusive space for animation, a unique opportunity for producers from the region and professionals from other parts of the world looking to connect with Latin America.
The key elements in this section include projects seeking strategic alliances, networking activities, round tables, workgroups with international specialists, and pitching training sessions.
Latin American animation continues to arouse great interest in new territories and markets. At Animation!, our goals are to accompany that movement by opening new paths and removing obstacles, and to form professionals in the region by encouraging strategic alliances, developing their potential with the help of experts from around the world, and promoting local talent in other markets.
ICAA is a public organization that promotes, regulates, and gives financial backing to cinematographic and audiovisual activities in Spain as an independent body within the Ministry of Culture, which creates policies to support the film industry and audiovisual production.
ICAA’s objectives are to encourage creativity, increase production, and favor the distribution of Spanish productions both nationally and internationally, as well as to promote the global profile of Spanish cinema and to safeguard and disseminate Spain’s cinematographic heritage.