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Alberto Vázquez's short film "Homeless Home" wins the Jury Prize at the Annecy Online

Business Evaluation. First Semester (III)

The recent prominence of the feature films "Klaus" and "Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles" at major international events has helped to boost global interest in Spanish animation.

At the same time, the animation sector has overcome the impact that COVID-19 has left in all areas of the audiovisual sector, showing "a strength and a great capacity to react and adapt to this new scenario," in the words of Nicolás Matji, President of Diboos, a federation that includes 80% of the animation and visual effects production companies.

"Klaus,” an animation feature film co-produced by The SPA Studio and Atresmedia Cine for Netflix, has marked a milestone in the history of an industry whose 70% turnover already comes from abroad.

Sergio Pablos' film was the big winner at the Annie Awards gala in January, winning seven awards, including Best Animated Film. In February, it was recognized with the BAFTA and nominated for an Oscar. Already in June, it won the Quirino Award for Best Latin American Animated Feature Film.

Among the recognitions achieved last year by "Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles” are the Jury Award at Annecy and the Special Jury Award at the GKIDS Animation Is Film Festival in Los Angeles.

The distinguished festival career of the film directed by Salvador Simó continued in December with the award for Best Animated Film from the European Film Academy. Already in 2020, "Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles” won the Goya for Best Animated Film.

Complementary films

A Spanish-Netherlands co-production, with a budget of Euro 1.8 million, “Buñuel” was the work of Spanish companies Sygnatia, The Glow Animation Studio, and Hampa Studio in partnership with the dutch firm Submarine. It was also supported by operators such as Movistar Plus, TVE, Telemadrid, Canal Extremadura and Aragón TV.

"They are two complementary films. ‘Klaus', is a family animation and ‘Buñuel' is more arthouse, but both can be produced as long as you adapt them to the market," explained the producer of "Buñuel" Manuel Cristóbal in June, whose background already includes other hits such as "Wrinkles" or "The Missing Lynx," at a meeting on animation within the framework of the Villanueva Showing Talks.

Both films illustrate different models of marketing. Distributed by Netflix, "Klaus" was launched on November 15 to compete globally with Hollywood's biggest animated titles for the Christmas campaign.

During the first month, the film was seen in about 30 million homes worldwide, placing it among the most successful original productions of the streaming service, according to data provided by Reuters in December.

For its part, "Buñuel," marketed internationally by Latido Films, has been adding new international sales agreements until reaching 40 territories sold. Its great international acceptance is evidenced by the fact that it has been released in theaters in countries such as Italy, distributed by Draka Cinema; France (Eurozoom), Germany (Arsenal), Russia (Russian Report), Benelux (Periscoop Films), USA (Gkids), as well as being sold to ARTE channel. It will soon be distributed in Mexico by Tulip Pictures.

SPA: From a boutique studio to a large production company

"Klaus” has also been a milestone for its own creators, The SPA Studios, the Madrid-based 2D animation studio that Sergio Pablos -also creator of "Despicable Me"- founded together with production company Marisa Román in 2004.

"The experience with 'Klaus' has been very enriching and above all, different from what we had been doing up until now. We were a service studio or an original ideas creation studio that we then sold to other producers. The difference is that Netflix believed in us not only to create the idea but also to produce it locally. We always wanted to do it in Spain and the only thing we had to do was to grow from a boutique studio with 20-40 people to the 300 we have been, not counting outsourcing," explained Román.

This international boom highlights the talent and human potential of Spanish animation. In their recent virtual meeting at the Villanueva Showing Talks, both producers agreed that the ideal scenario would be to take advantage of the current situation to achieve a consolidation of the industrial fabric.

"Right now, Spain is already on the international board and it's something we have to take advantage of. There are already tax breaks that can reach more than Euro 10 million per film. With such allowances it would be possible for Spanish studios to produce one film after another," said Cristobal.

The list of recent awards received by the animation industry also includes the jury's award at the Annecy online edition for the short film "Homeless Home," a Spain-France co-production directed by Alberto Vázquez and produced by the Bilbao studio Uniko.