France’s Atlas V and British banner No Ghost have unveiled the trailer and poster for “Madrid Noir,” James Castillo’s VR animated short, which is set to world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival then play at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in June.
The 40-minute, interactive VR caper is a spinoff of the 2018 short by the same name directed by Castillo, a Madrid-born, London-based helmer who previously created animation designs for Paramount Pictures, Sony and, most recently, Netflix.
Speaking to Variety, Castillo says he had a desire to step into the VR landscape after working as art director on “Melita,” a critically acclaimed VR experience by Oculus Rift, which played at the Venice and Sitges film festivals.
“Madrid Noir” follows a young woman who arrives at the apartment of her estranged and deceased uncle to pick up the pieces of his life. She’s unexpectedly thrown back into the past to relive a summer she spent with him as a child. Revisiting that time leads her to uncover a long buried secret.
Castillo, who’s been living in London for several years and misses his hometown, says the film also pays tribute to Madrid, a “vibrant city that we seldom see in films and series” which makes it a “somewhat exotic backdrop.”
“I went into ‘Madrid Noir’ with the idea to create a film that wasn’t just for kids or VR fans, and engaging enough for grown-ups,” says Castillo. “Very often, VR content works as exhibitions or as realistic documentaries, or even games, and while these are all great, I was more interested in making a narrative-driven film that belongs to the VR space, but is accessible and taps into different aspects, since I’m a fan of storytelling.” He cites “Wallace and Gromit” and Pixar films as references for “Madrid Noir.”
Inspired by detective novels, Castillo says he had the ambition to break new ground with “Madrid Noir” with its “noirish” atmosphere, detective intrigue and dramatic set-up with shadows and light, as well as its interactive technology. The voice cast of “Madrid Noir” is led by Fernando Guillén Cuervo and Godeliv Van Den Brandt.
Atlas V’s stellar track record includes “Gloomy Eyes,” an animated VR series narrated by Colin Farrell, “BattleScar” narrated by Rosario Dawson and Eliza McNitt’s science-themed “Spheres,” produced with Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel. Their productions have premiered at Tribeca, Sundance, Venice and Toronto, among other festivals.