×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Annecy: Spain’s Salvador Simó on Buñuel, Turtles, Surrealism, Animation

Director and producer of ‘Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles’ presents a sneak peek at the Annecy Festival

ANNECY, France—Much awaited, “Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles” is produced by prominent Spanish animation producer Manuel Cristobal, producer of Ignacio Ferreras’ “Wrinkles,” at Sygnatia in co-production with The Glow Animation Studio and Dutch outfit Submarine. Producer and director Salvador Simó will unveil excerpts and diverse material illustrating the process of conception and production of this singular movie at Annecy’s WIP showcase.

“Buñuel” chronicles the days that surrealist  Luis Buñuel spent in Spain’s remote mountains of Las Hurdes, shooting documentary “Land Without Bread,” regarded as one of his masterpieces, about the hardships of one of the poorest parts of Europe. The movie is an origins tale: a personal approach on Buñuel the man and artist,as he found his own  voice, and social conscience and about his friendship with sculptor Ramón Acín who was able to finance “Land” after winning a lottery prize.

Simó is also developing his second solo feature, an adaptation of Óscar Pantoja’s graphic novel about another towering art figure Gabriel García Márquez, “Gabo: Memoirs of a Magical Life,” which will be a co-production of Cristóbal’s Sygnatia and Colombia’s Rey Naranjo.

Expected to be finished in July, “Buñuel”‘s distribution is scheduled for winter this year. International sales are handled by Antonio Saura’s Latido Films.

Are you ready to answer all the questions that people are going to ask about Buñuel?

I don’t consider myself an expert on Buñuel. But among the many books I read, the Spanish Academy gave me one published years ago including interviews with people who worked with him. A huge tome. The book became my bedside reading. One day, when I woke up I called Manuel Cristóbal: ’Manuel, I have just met Buñuel; I had a coffee with him’. I really dreamt it that night and I felt as though I had met him and spoken about trivial things. This got me focused.

What is documentary and fiction in the film?

We did not want to make a documentary at all. To a large extent a big part of the story of our movie might have happened in real life; some other episodes didn’t. There are things that are evidently fiction, for example, when Buñuel dresses as a nun or some story details with Ramon.But ultimately we had to dramatize, construct a plot to hook and entertain audiences.

Did you feel freer, tackling the story via an animated feature?

The supposed freedom of animation is absolutely fictitious.  If I had made a live-action movie I would have done it exactly the same way. It is rather a question of planning. In animation, there’s no room for improvisation. Buñuel himself worked this way too, doing at the most a couple of takes for every shot. I believe that the main difference between animation and live-action, especially in this movie. When you are going to watch an animated movie is like when your grandfather told you a story. You know that this is fiction and you’re ready to believe everything. You end up in a state of fantasy, of suspension of disbelief.

You’re preparing now a movie about Colombian writer García Márquez. It’s inspired on a comic book by Óscar Pantoja who said, “animation films are pure magic realism.” Does animation link to Buñuel’s surrealism and García Márquez’s magical realism?

Yes, precisely because of that, because they take you to a different dimension. Although I need to be cautious about that. Nowadays, you can do everything with live-action images. What is the difference? The perception of the spectator. It’s easier to enter into a surrealistic, fantastic world through animation, because the spectator is willing to.

When deciding the story’s visual treatment, was one of the challenges to find a balance between the surrealism impregnating Buñuel’s universe and the human and political commitment involved in the shooting of “Land Without Bread”….

Undoubtedly. I could not have made a movie like Buñuel would have, who at the time searching for his own personal voice. And I have searched for mine, but you cannot totally avoid being influenced by Buñuel’s character. In a way, I have worked with him, I have known him.

The French avant-garde was an inspiration for experimentation and provocation. Do you believe that always –even now– art, cinema remains provocative, and aims to takes steps forward?

Nowadays, we have a different censorship to battle with than back then. We usually watch very commercial cinema, expect it to comply with certain formulae, rhythms, where everything has to be made in a certain way, where –sometimes– directors, voluntarily or not, end up making almost the same film. With my limitations, I’ve tried to move in a different direction. But when you make a movie, you also have a responsibility towards people who paid to watch it. You must thrill them, give audiences a good time.

CREDIT: Salvador Simó

More Film

  • Author Tony Mendez arrives at the

    Tony Mendez, Former CIA Officer Depicted in 'Argo,' Dies at 78

    Tony Mendez, the former CIA technical operations officer who orchestrated the 1980 rescue of six American diplomats from Iran and who was portrayed by Ben Affleck in the Academy Award winning film “Argo,” has died. He was 78. Mendez’s book agent, Christy Fletcher, announced the news on Twitter Saturday morning. “Early this morning, Antonio (Tony) [...]

  • Glass Movie

    'Glass' to Rank in Top 3 MLK Debuts With $48 Million

    M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” is on its way to a solid debut with an estimated $48 million for the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. A sequel to 2000’s “Unbreakable” and 2017’s “Split,” the Universal superhero thriller should bring in around $41 million from 3,841 domestic locations over the Friday through Sunday period. The estimates are [...]

  • China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to

    China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to Hit French Theaters (EXCLUSIVE)

    Midnight Blur Films has signed a deal with French distributor Les Acacias to release Chinese arthouse drama “Three Adventures of Brooke” in France this year, the Chinese production company told Variety on Saturday. A release date has yet to be set for the film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and stars Chinese newcomer Xu Fangyi [...]

  • Noe Debre On His Directorial Debut,

    Top French Screenwriter Noe Debre Makes Directorial Debut, ‘The Seventh Continent’

    This last half-decade, few French screenwriters have run up such an illustrious list of co-write credits as Noé Debré. Thomas Bedigain’s writing partner on Jacques Audiard’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Deephan,” Debra co-penned Bedigain’s own debut, “The Cowboys,” “Racer and the Jailbird,” by Michael Roskam, and “Le Brio,” directed by Yvan Attal. He has now [...]

  • Julien Trauman Talks Survival-Thriller Short ‘At

    Julien Trauman on Survival-Thriller Short ‘At Dawn’

    France’s Julien Trauman has never been afraid to play with genre, and in his latest short, the MyFrenchFilmFestival participant “At Dawn,” he employs aspects of psychological thriller, survival, coming-of-age and fantasy filmmaking. “At Dawn” kicks off the night before when a group of teens, one about to leave town, are imbibing heavily around a beach-side [...]

  • ‘Flowers’ Director Baptiste Petit-Gats Interview

    Baptiste Petit-Gats: ‘Editing Taught Me How to Write for Film’

    France’s Baptiste Petit-Gats is an hyphenate that keeps himself plenty busy editing, photographing, writing and directing. The bulk of his editing gigs up until now have been in documentary film work, evident in the way he shot and edited his own short film, participating in the MyFrenchFilmFestival, “Flowers.” In the film, Petit-Gats tells the heartbreaking [...]

  • Fanny Litard, Jérémy Trouilh on ‘Blue

    France’s Fanny Liatard, Jérémy Trouilh Discuss MyFFF Suburban Fable ‘Blue Dog’

    French filmmakers Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh met at university while studying political science before diverging towards separate careers. Trouilh trained in documentary filmmaking; Liatard worked on urban artistic projects in Lebanon and France. They eventually joined back up to film three shorts: “Gagarine,” a Sundance Channel Shorts Competition Jury Prize winner in 2016; “The [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content