Crowning recognition of Alberto Vazquez, one of Spain’s fastest-rising young animation directors, New York’s Gkids has acquired North American distribution rights to “Birdboy: The Forgotten Children,” the first feature of joint directors Vazquez and Pedro Rivero, based on a Vazquez graphic novel and 2011 short film, “Birdboy.”
This February, Vazquez pulled off a remarkable double at the Spanish Academy Goya Awards – the country’s equivalent of the Oscars – winning best animation feature for “Birdboy” and best animated short for “Decorado,” seen at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight.
Also a product of Northern Spain’s building animated movie scene, “Birdboy” is set on an island in a post-apocalyptic world where Dinky, a young teen mouse, hatches a plan to escape to the big city. Birdboy, a shy teen bird tormented by psychotic nightmares of demons, shuts himself up in a nearby lighthouse.
Jumping from black or sometimes gross-out humor to school bullying, violent police, dirt poverty, an odd-ball talking clock, Dinky’s gross adoptive father, and demons imagined or real, “Birdboy: The Forgotten Children” paints a hugely cross-grained portrait of a world devastated by the actions of adults.
“Among the many vastly more expensive, live-action dystopian visions of recent cinema, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything as original or surprisingly poignant” as “Birdboy: The Forgotten Children,” Variety said in its review.
“Sardonic, cruel, funny, macabre, yet surprisingly good-hearted, this bizarre adventure won’t fit into standard commercial theatrical slots for animated features. But deserved critical and fan support should eventually guide it to its niche audience,” the review also predicted.
After “Birdboy: The Forgotten Children’s” world premiere at Annecy Festival last June, that is most certainly on the cards thanks to the pick-up by Gkids, which plans a Fall 2017 theatrical release of the film in both its original Spanish and a dubbed English-language version.
“From the first moment we screened the film we knew we had to be involved,” said Dave Jesteadt, president of Gkids.
He went on: “With iconic characters and a storyline that explores universal themes of hope, despair, salvation, and loss with humor and grace, ‘Birdboy’ pushes the boundaries of animated storytelling in exciting new directions.”
A remarkable distributor of award-winning featured animation for adults and families, Gkids has scored nine best animated feature Academy Award nominations, starting with “The Secret of the Kells” in 2010. Moving into production, it is co-producing “The Breadwinner,” from “Kells’” producer Cartoon Saloon, which will be shown as a work-in-progress next month at France’s Annecy Festival and is scheduled for a release later this year in the U.S.
“Birdboy: The Forgotten Children” is produced by Carlos Juarez’s Basque Films, which made the dark-humored animated feature spoof “Possessed,” Galician actor Luis Tosar (“Miami Vice”) and Farruco Castroman’s ZircoZine Animation. It is backed by both the Galicia and Basque governments in Northern Spain.