Catalan animation focuses on feature films
The emerging powerhouse of high-end cinematic animation in Europe, Spain, saw eight titles selected for the March Cartoon Movie meet, second only to France. Meanwhile, Spaniard Alberto Mielgo won an Oscar for his animated short ‘The Windshield Wiper’.
The Spanish animation industry generated revenues of more than $950 million in 2021, according to Spanish trade promotion council ICEX.
By developing a fund dedicated to animated films, Catalonia seems ready to capture an ever greater share of this action. Of the eight titles of Spanish animated films in 2022, compared to five in 2019, three feature films have a contribution to Catalan production: “Tad, the Lost Explorer and the Emerald Tablet” by Enrique Gato produced by Ikiru , “Momias” by Jesús García Galocha, from 4 Cats Pictures and “They Shot the Piano Player” by Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal, selected for a Work in Progress presentation in Annecy.
The number of highly anticipated Catalan animated feature films in various stages of production, however, is increasing compared to previous years. Tracks, to name a few, include “Robot Dreams” by Pablo Berger, sold by Elle Driver (produced by Arcadia Motion Pictures), “Caramel’s Words” by Salvador Simó (Koniec), “The Light of Aisha ” by Shadi Adib (Mago Production), “Olivia and the Invisible Earthquake” by Irene Iborra (Terremoto AIE) and “Rock Bottom” by María Trénor (Alba Sotorra).
Traditionally considered a southern European hub for the production of animated television series, Catalonia is extending its expertise to feature films. Live action producers – Inicia, Arcadia, Mr. Miyagi – are also getting into animation.
Why is another matter. Catalan film body ICEC launched a dedicated animation funding line in 2017. That year, four series received public currency. No features were submitted. In 2021, however, six series and six feature films received grants, compared to only two series and one feature film in 2018 and 2019.
In addition to this fund, which has a war chest of $5.1 million for 2022, animation projects can also tap into a Catalan minority co-production fund.
“Catalan animation has always been avant-garde, well trained in television production, which has generated incredible talent”, explains David Matamoros at Mr. Miyagi, who is advancing on four animation projects, among which “Dalia and The Red Book” by David Bisbano,” and “Hanna and the Monsters” by Lorena Ares.
“The deadlines are very long in animation. It takes time to reap the benefits,” explains Iván Agenjo, president of the Catalan animation lobby Pro-animats and producer at Peekaboo, the originator of “Mironins” and from “My Little Heroes”.
Currently, however, says Agenjo, Catalan animation is thriving in a “very encouraging environment”, thanks to support from ICEC and Spain’s central film agency ICAA and more stable investments from Catalan public broadcaster TVC in course of the last three years. Spanish national broadcaster TVE has also announced its intention to increase its investment in family entertainment.
In Catalonia, as in the world, animation has proven to be much more resistant to COVID-19.
“While the pandemic has forced many live shoots to be canceled, this has not affected the animation,” says Valérie Delpierre of Inicia Films, which supports Adrià García’s “Le Trésor de Barracuda”.
According to analytics, over the past two years there has been a 118% increase in global demand for animation, “making it one of the fastest growing content genres during the pandemic.” .
The sector now benefits from various favorable winds. More than anything else, the industry debate at April’s CinemaCon highlighted the importance of family audiences at the US box office. The European home film market is underserved by its own independent production sector.
Several animation film schools in Catalonia – ECIB, IDEP, FX Animation Barcelona and ECIB – are preparing their local talent pool. Festivals such as Animac, Mecal and even the genre event Sitges Festival serve to highlight notable titles.
However, in the absence of more investment from broadcasters and commercial platforms, public sector funding in Catalonia and beyond appears to remain a key driver of growth.