France’s Marmita Films has joined Sardinha em Lata, Caretos Film and Basque Films as a co-producer on the upcoming Portuguese 2D-stop motion hybrid feature “My Grandfather’s Demons.”

Having impressed as a project at Segovia’s 3D Wire – now Weird Market – where it won the La Liga Feature Project Award, Nuno Beato’s “My Grandfather’s Demons” has reaped the benefits of that prize by pitching at Ventana Sur’s Animation! sidebar, one of Latin America’s key animation platforms. The project also recently received a $100,000 grant from the Ibermedia fund.

Sardinha has a long history with Beato, having worked with him on a dozen short films over the past decade.

In the film, Rosa is a successful designer living in a generic big city. After the unexpected death of her grandfather, she realizes she’s not been in a place where she felt connected or loved since she left her homeland and returns to her native village on the border between Northern Portugal and Spain’s Galicia.

Rosa inherits a series of letters filled with clues her grandfather left her to help the woman make peace with herself and others she has essentially forgotten, while also repairing mistakes her grandfather made in life. Rosa enters a world inhabited by fantastic clay creatures – the demons – and wild animals, and a life in which the flow of the seasons and community are what matter most.

“That’s what the movie talks about,” Sardinha’s Carvalho explained to Variety at 3D Wire. “The relationship between people, that’s something we are losing.”

“With this film I mean to identify with a way of life that often consumes us, makes us retreat from our most profound being and pushes us into automatic actions that distance us from the ‘Other,’” explains Beato in his director’s statement. The danger is “Independence converted into isolation and the pushing away of the need we have of living connected to a community.”

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Sardinha em Lata

He goes on to say that: “Rosa’s search is directly connected to taking comfort from the Others’ embrace, to the need of friendship connections, to sharing and to mutual help. We all need the Others’ presence and the human bonds that grow beyond the pursuit of economic independence and the illusion that it creates within us.”

Rosa’s big city life will be animated in hand-drawn 2D, an example of which was presented at 3D Wire’s pitching sessions. In the clip, the neat and tidy executive explodes in the middle of a meeting, throwing things, screaming and pulling out her hair.

As Rosa’s foot touches the dirt of her hometown, the film dramatically changes to stop motion, and colors and movement gain a sense of realism intentionally left out of the drab 2D introduction.

Stylistically, the demon figurines are heavily influenced by the traditional work of famed Portuguese ceramic artists Rosa Ramalho (1888-1977). In northern Portugal the figures, called Caretos, are used for winter solstice festivals dating back to the region’s Celtic past. The landscapes and architecture created for the film will similarly be based on the geographic area, particularly the Montesinho nature park in Galicia.

“My Grandfather’s Demons” is planned as an all-ages feature intended to be the inspiration for intergenerational debate and discussion. It has a €2.5 million ($2.77 million) budget and will kick off production in 2020, to be finished by the end of 2021.

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Sardinha em Lata