“Spain has one thing that really gives it an industry edge: its talent,” said Ignacio Perez Dolset, at Ilion Animation Studios.
Below, profiles of 16 young – or young-ish – animation talents who have broken through in the last years and either feature in the Annecy Festival’s “From Doodles to Pixels” program strand, or have projects at the market, or, in the case of five, are ICAA Annecy attendance grant winners bought to the Festival by 3D Wire, Spain’s top animation market. Or combinations of all three. Variety originally aimed to profile ten talents, but it agrees with Perez Dolset.
ROCIO ALVAREZ, ”STREET DRIVER”
Painter, illustrator, graphic designer, finally toon director,. a true multi-hyphenate artist, Alvarez was the first Spanish woman to be nominated for a Cartoon d’Or, for her graduation short, “Ecart de conduite” Its TV-series spin-of sorts, “Street Driver”, will be pitched at MIFA. “Driver” depicts hilarious situations sparked by driving exams. Alvarez is currently also developing an erotic animation short (“Simbiosos carnal”) and comic-book.
TOMAS BASES, “PRINCESA CHINA”
“Princesa China” (pictured) screens at Annecy’s From Doodles to Pixels Next Generation showcase. An illustrator, short film maker (“Opening Doors”) and computer graphics designer. Bases is currently specializing in 3D animation. Apart from commissioned works, he’s now developing his next animation short: “Alicia and the Rooster’s Temptation,” an interactive tale for tablets.
RODRIGO BLAAS, “ALMA”
One of the most international of young Spanish animation artists and a regular Pixar collaborator, Rodrigo Blaas has a long credit list to his name including “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Ice Age,” “Finding Nemo” and “Ratatouille”. Blaas’ first animated short, “Alma,” tells the story of a girl enchanted by a puppet. Blaas is developing a project alongside Guillermo del Toro that still has to come to fruition.
ANTONIO JESUS BUSTO, “MAGICAL JUNKYARD”
Winner of Best Student Film at the 2014 British Animation Awards for “The Day I Killed My Best Friend,” about a nine year-old girl who has her first period and kills her imaginary friend, a short which combines a wrap-around bathroom and stream of consciousness animation. After “Play EEE-Yow: Emotional Links,” again working with Blanca Font, Busto is prepping “Magical Junkyard,” a multi-platform TV series project, knit by a naïf psychedelia, where pieces of junk take on life. Creative director at the Amsterdam-Seville-Canada Rabano Studio. “What I like is to render more pop and commercial the more creative and experimental end of the audiovisual spectrum,” Busto said.
IVAN CARMONA, “NAGAH’S AWAKENING”
Set up at Madrid’s Sunshine Studios, a 2D work-for-hire house which is also advancing on more personal projects, “Nagah’s Awakening” is a 10-minute 2D animation fantasy action-adventure short helmed by Carmona and Sunshine colleague Maria Buitrago, both former students at Spain’s Escuela Superior de Dibujo Profesional where they made “Elbion.” The tale of Gaela, a boy who is trained to invoke the Gods, “Nagah” channels anime visuals and Celtic legend. “We love Japanese anime but attempt to make a more fluid Western animation with more expressive characters,” Carmona said.
CESAR DIAZ, “ZEPO”
Diaz works with puppets, sand, 2D drawings, pixilation, and plasticine, among other techniques. He has worked on more than 40 cartoon series, shorts, and music videos. He’s also participated on features like “ParaNorman,” “Anomalisa” and “Frankenweenie.” At Annecy, Diaz will compete with “Zepo,” about a little girl who follows a bloody trail she runs into while she’s collecting some firewood. Prepping what could be the first sand animated feature, based on a Gabriel Garcia Marquez tale.
DVEIN: TEO GUILLEM, CARLOS PARDO, ‘MAGMA’
A group formed by Teo Guillem and Carlos Pardo. Trained in fine arts Dvein mixes live action and computer-generated imagery, or CGI with a very crafting way and an own distinctive aesthetic. “We work with an experimental, design-driven culture at our core,” they say. Made for The Vein’s new single, and Dvein’s first music video, “Magma” is a luminous, psychodelic poem of souls trapped in an icy magma hell.
JUAN PABLO ETCHEVERRY Probably the most talked up of recent Spanish animators, even by his colleagues. Self-taught and an artist of meticulously hand-crafted works, some of his shorts are “The Biggest Flower in the World” – an adaptation of a Jose Saramago novel, blessed by the Nobel Winner – and cubist plasticine toon short “Minotauromaquia,” screening at Annecy. In Rome, where he lives and teaches stop-motion animation, Etcheverry is developing a more technical expertise working in post-production and 3D.
FERNANDO POMARES, “MORNING COWBOY”
Co-creator and co-director of TV toon series “Cheeky Anna,” produced by France’s multi Academy Award nominated Les Armateurs (“Ernest and Celestine”) and Folimage (“A Cat in Paris”), the deans of Gallic 2D animation, Pomares, an alum of Barcelona’s top Escac film school, will be in Paris later this month talking up “La muerte en la Alcarria” at Paris’ Different! Spanish film festival. At Annecy, he will present “Morning Cowboy,” a six-minute b/w short about a man who decides one morning to dress as a cowboy to go to work: The portrait of a man who needs dreams to sustain his reduced life; in other words, the portrait of almost everybody.
MARC RIBA, ANNA SOLA, “THE TWIN GIRLS OF SUNSET STREET”
Directors of a string of multi-prized shorts including “La Lupe i en Bruno,” “Violeta,” “Cabaret Kadne,” and “Canis” –a Melies d’Argent winner last year, they create an elegant and disturbing atmospheres with not-so-innocent” wooden dolls. Besides shorts, through their shingle I+G Stop-Motion, Riba and Sola make commercials and commissioned works. They plan to shoot their next short “Cavalls morts” at the end of the year. Featured in Annecy’s From Doodles to Pixels: The Next Generation showcase with “The Twin Girls of Sunset Street.”
NACHO RODRIGUEZ, “THE MANY PIECES OF MR COO”
Set to music by Julie Reier, the fully animated flash animation point-and-click video game, “The Many Pieces of Mr Coo” features Mr Coo, the malleable podgy alter ego for Rodriguez himself first seen in 2007’s “The Adventures of Mr Coo,” winner of the ColdHardFlash.com Flash Animation 10: Best Animated 2007. Prolific, versatile, surreal-minded, Rodriguez also caught attention for 2012’s “A Paedophile” and the Goya-nominated “A Life Story,” a emotional life-odyssey musical short about a young cat, looked after by his parents, who travels far from home but returns to care for those who once cared for him. Dubbing himself an “old-school” animator, “The Many Pieces” could be for kids seven-and-upwards, Rodriguez said.
TRIMONO: ABEL SANCHEZ, PAULO ALFAYA HERBELLO, “AMOR DE MONO”
A boutique toon animation studio formed by Abel Sanchez and Paulo Mosca (aka Paulo Alfaya Herbello), Trimono makes “outlandish,” “wild” animation, combining commercial works with shorts. Set in a banana republic Madrid, Featuring two regular dudes reacting to police violence by morphing into superheroes, wasting the cops with fusillades of bananas and taking out Spain’s corrupt dictator, “Amor de mono” plays at Annecy in the From Doodles to Pixels Humor and Massacre section. Sanchez and Alfaya Herbello are now preparing several shorts and a TV series where all the universe’s evils are the responsibility of three weird monkeys –Tango, Mono and Chango –traveling through time. Its target: adults and young adults.
NICOLAI TROSHINSKY, “ASTIGMATISM”
Moscow-born and Madrid-based, Trohinsky has trained in Italy, Spain and Valence’s animation school La Poudriere (like Rocio Alvarez). An illustrator, vidgame designer and occasional writer of children literature (“The Firebird,” “The Dream Tamer”). His short, “Astigmatism,” was selected at Sundance and now plays Annecy’s Next Generation sidebar. Its numerous awards include Hiroshima and Tallin animation fests. Troshinsky is prepping a new arthouse vidgame.