Celebrated Andalusian production house La Claqueta, headed by producer Olmo Figueredo, will produce “Bella,” the debut animated feature from Spanish director Manuel H. Martín – with whom the company previously produced the award-winning documentary “30 Years of Darkness” and “El viaje mas largo,” and celebrated VFX supervisor Amparo Martínez Barco (“Marshland,” “The Head”).
Martín also co-wrote the screenplay for “Bella,” working with award-winning filmmaker Carmen Jiménez, co-writer of 2019’s Spanish Academy Goya Award-nominated “Adiós,” starring Mario Casas.
“Bella” is inspired by the true story of Seville’s Ana Bella Estévez, an Ashoka España entrepreneur and a survivor of gender violence who founded the Ana Bella Foundation, a global network of more than 30,000 women survivors who work to create social change in 82 countries worldwide. Importantly, the film’s team chose animation as the medium to tell her story so that audiences of all ages can hear the important message Ana has dedicated her life to sharing.
Although “Bella” will be Martín’s first go at making an entirely animated feature, he did work on animated sequences in “30 Years of Darkness,” a documentary about Spanish topos, or moles in English, oppositionists to Franco’s murderous regime that went into hiding after the Spanish Civil War, some of them for as many as three decades before amnesty was offered in the late ’60s. The documentary was a key inspiration on the Award-winning Spanish Best International Feature Film Submission “The Endless Trench,” also produced by La Claqueta.
Martín explained to Variety that, “Our team knows that this is a hard story to tell, and sadly all too contemporary, so we have opted for a subtle and delicate aesthetic. As a universal story of overcoming adversity, we are working so that, with our own and personal artistic proposal, the film finds a very accessible language for the general public, especially the younger audience.”
For her part Martínez said that: “The main challenge presented to us by this film is to tell the story of Bella, a story of gender violence, through the medium of animation. The scourge of abuse does not discern by age, so we feel a responsibility to make a film that is reachable for younger audiences, and animation facilitates that type of storytelling.”
“Bella” will be produced by Olmo Figueredo Gonzalez-Quevedo for La Claqueta and the purpose-built label Bella La Pelicula. Sara Gómez is executive producer and the film is supported by the ICAA Spanish audiovisual agency and the Junta de Andalucía, among others public institutions. As a project, the script has been developed with the European programs EAVE and Sources.
“I met Ana Bella Estévez eight years ago at an awards ceremony and her motivational speech made me see that the way to get a woman out of an environment of gender violence cannot only be to show the physical consequences other victims have suffered, but that it is more effective to show the stories of survivors’ overcoming,” said Figueredo. “With a vital and positive approach, we hope to show that there is always an alternative and that there is always someone who wants to help us. That was the starting point of this film.”