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Europe’s emerging upscale movie animation power, Spain, saw eight titles selected for March’s Cartoon Movie meet, trailing only France. Meanwhile, Spaniard Alberto Mielgo won an Academy Award for his animated short film “The Windshield Wiper.”

Spain’s animation industry generated revenues of over $950 million in 2021, according to Spanish trade promotion board ICEX.

Growing a dedicated animation film fund, Catalonia looks set to grab an ever-larger piece of this action. Of Spain’s eight animation movie titles in 2022, up from five in 2019, three features have Catalan production input: Enrique Gato’s “Tad, The Lost Explorer and the Emerald Tablet” produced by Ikiru, Jesús García Galocha’s “Momias,” from 4 Cats Pictures and Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal’s “They Shot the Piano Player,” selected for a Work in Progress presentation at Annecy.

The number of eagerly awaited Catalan animation features in different stages of production is way up, however, compared to previous years. Titles, just to name a few, take in Pablo Berger’s Elle Driver-sold “Robot Dreams” (produced by Arcadia Motion Pictures), Salvador Simó’s “Caramel’s Words” (Koniec), Shadi Adib’s “The Light of Aisha” (Mago Production), Irene Iborra’s “Olivia and the Invisible Earthquake” (Terremoto AIE) and María Trénor’s “Rock Bottom” (Alba Sotorra).

Traditionally considered a southern European hub of animated TV series production, Catalonia is extending its expertise to features. Live-action producers — Inicia, Arcadia, Mr. Miyagi — are also plowing into animation.

Why is another matter. Catalan film body ICEC launched a dedicated financing line for animation in 2017. That year, four series received public coin. No feature was submitted. By 2021, however, six series and six features received grants, up from just two series and one feature in 2018 and 2019.

In addition to this fund, with a $5.1 million war chest for 2022, animation projects can also tap a Cat- alan minority co-production fund.

“Catalan animation has always been cutting-edge, well trained in TV production, which has generated incredible talent,” says David Matamoros at Mr. Miyagi, which is advancing on four animated projects, among them David Bisbano’s “Dalia and the Red Book,” and Lorena Ares’ “Hanna and the Monsters.”

“Timelines are very long in animation. It takes time to collect fruit,” says Iván Agenjo, president of Catalan animation lobby Pro- animats and a producer at Peekaboo, behind “Mironins” and “My Little Heroes.”

Currently, however, Agenjo says, Catalan animation is flourishing in a “highly encouraging environment,” thanks to backing from ICEC and Spain’s central film agency ICAA and more stable investment from Catalan public broadcaster TVC over the last three years. National Span- ish broadcaster TVE has also stated its intention of boosting its investment in family-targeting animation.

In Catalonia, as over the world, animation proved far more COVID-19 resilient.

“If the pandemic forced many live-action shoots to cancel, this didn’t affect animation,” says Valérie Delpierre at Inicia Films, which is backing Adrià García’s “The Treasure of Barracuda.”

According to analytics, over the past two years, there has been a 118% increase in the global demand for animation, “making it one of the fastest-growing content genres during the pandemic.”

The sector now enjoys various tailwinds. More than anything else, industry debate at April’s CinemaCon emphasized the importance of family audiences at the U.S. box office. Europe’s family film market is underserved by its own independent production sector.

Multiple animation film schools in Catalonia — ECIB, IDEP, FX Animation Barcelona, and ECIB — are priming their local talent pool. Festivals such as Animac, Mecal, and even the Sitges Festival genre event serve to highlight standout titles.

For want of more investment from commercial broadcasters and platforms, however, the public sector finance in Catalonia and beyond looks to remain a key growth driver.