Cartoon Movie: Cristóbal, Simó, Rey Naranjo Team for ‘Gabo, Memoirs of a Magical Life’

Project recaptures the moment Gabriel García Márquez found a way into writing ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’

BORDEAUX, France — Manuel Cristóbal’s Spain-based Sygnatia and Colombia’s Rey Naranjo are teaming to develop the animated feature “Gabo, Memoirs of a Magical Life.”

To be unveiled at the 20th Cartoon Movie, which kicks off March 7 in Bordeaux, “Gabo” – the nickname of celebrated Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez – reunites producer Cristobal (“Wrinkles”) with writer-director Salvador Simó.

Set up at Sygnatia and The Glow Animation Studio, produced by Cristobal and helmed by Simó, “Buñuel and the Labyrinth of Turtles,” now in production, will also be presented at Cartoon Movie.

Currently at concept stage, “Gabo” is a 2D animation film targeting an adult audience. It adapts Oscar Pantoja’s graphic novel translated into 17 languages and published by John Naranjo, one of the film’s producers and edito of the comic book.

“By creating this book and now producing this film, we feel we are on the shoulders of a giant who has used language to create and re-interpret the rich Latin American culture,” Naranjo said. 

“Gabo” also sees Cristóbal, a Cartoon Tribute best producer winner, consolidating a hallmark style: A literary adaptation, here of Oscar Pantoja’s graphic novel translated into 17 languages, a creator as the subject, 2D animation, and a focus on a moment in the life of a towering figure which encapsulates some of their genius and singularity.

In “Gabo: Memoirs of a Magical Life,” that moment comes in 1965 as García Márquez is traveling to Acapulco with his wife and young children for a short vacation. García Márquez is frustrated. He has written admirable novels and one, “Nobody Writes to the Colonel,” which in its crafted style alone was a highpoint in Spanish literature. But he had not been able to write with a style which was his own and his continent’s.

His wife, driving, mentions the book Garcia Márquez has been trying to write for the last 20 years.

At a bend in the road, he recalled later – though García Marquez had the habit of recalling things in varying manners – he hears a voice which tells him the opening sentence of the novel: “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” Encapsulated in just one sentence is much of the novel: a story which comes full circle; a sense of who will be its real protagonist and of tragic destiny; violence.

García Márquez and family dash back to their Mexico City home where Mercedes locks him up to write what was to become “100 Years of Solitude,” the crowning achievement for many of modern Latin American literature which won him years later a Nobel Prize.

Simó and Pantoja are writing the screenplay of “Gabo, Memoirs of a Magical Life” which is about “what it means to pursue a dream, the difficulties and sacrifices we have to make, the people we meet along the way who help us to achieve this,” said Simó.

“This film is a story of love, of Gabo and his wife, of Gabriel García Márquez and literature and of all those who admire the author the father of magical realism,” Cristóbal added.

García Márquez’s own work has been adapted multiple times, with distinctly varying results. “Gabo’s” filmmakers argue that animation offers new possibilities.

“Animation films are pure magic realism,” said Pantoja.

“Animation is the ideal tool to translate his world to the screen,” Cristóbal argued.

He went on: “It shows us unlimited possibilities, a path that both Sygnatia as a production company and I as a producer want to continue and expand on in what will be my third film in this genre.”

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