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Annecy 2015 – Spain: Stamp of the Artist

// Featured, Reviews (Event)

Spain was the guest country at this year’s Annecy festival, giving festivalgoers an insight into the history and significance of Spanish animation through a variety of different screenings. I found this particularly appropriate as I didn’t know much at all about the Spanish animation industry until Sergio Pablos Animation released their teaser for Klaus in April, inspiring me to do some research into it. This screening, Stamp of the Artist, gave a concise insight into Spanish animation from 1969 all the way to the present day.

Homenaje a Tarzan (Dir. Rafael Ruiz Balerdi, 1970)

Homenaje a Tarzan (Dir. Rafael Ruiz Balerdi, 1970)

The program says, ‘during the 1970s, an industry began to get off the ground by answering to the needs of content for the small screen, although some creatives were more attracted to the art scene, seeing a fantastic medium for bringing all the arts together in animation.’ The first five films in the screening were very definitely on the ‘art’ side of the fence – crazy, psychedelic, experimental animations that were kind-of-interesting but that I also only have a limited patience for. Get Back (1969) by Ivan Zulueta and No Se (1985) by Nicéforo Ortiz were the best of these, not least because they were both music videos and so had some structure. Both were brightly coloured and certainly in the case of Get Back, the song was very catchy and the animation had a rhythmic quality to it which was enjoyable to watch. Rafael Ruiz Balerdi’s Homenaje a Tarzan (1970), J.A. Sistiaga’s Impresiones en la Alta Atmosfera (1989) and José Félix González Placer‘s 20 Dias de Amor (1991) were more difficult watching as there didn’t seem to be a narrative or a clear focus point in any of them. Impresiones… was the worst for this; a circle in the middle of the screen with visual noise inside of it. I understand how that links to the title of course, but I don’t understand why someone would think it would make for good watching.


Las Partes de mi que te Aman son Seres Vacios (Dir. Mercedes Gaspar Salvo, 1995)

Las Partes de mi que te Aman son Seres Vacios (The Parts of Me that you Love are Empty Things, 1995) by Mercedes Gaspar Salvo was the first film in this screening that I really enjoyed. A couple are sitting on either side of a table about to eat dinner. The man says to the woman that he loves her smile and she coyly puts her hand over her mouth. Bringing her napkin up with her other hand, she removes her lips and slides them across the table so that he may have her smile. This continues; she likes his eyes, he removes them for her; until (in an insane-but-kind-of-wonderful-to-watch kind of way) they are both removing body parts left right and centre. The film starts off, I think, as actors being filmed in stop motion. When the lady ‘takes off’ her lips, where her lips were now has a piece of paper with a drawing of lips on it. The removed lips look like puppets or claymation. As the two of them lose more and more pieces, I think that the piece becomes more and more models-based instead of humans. However they did it, it was crazy, funny and very well done!

After another couple of experimental films; Geroztik Ere… (1993) and Estado de Cambio (2010), (the latter was actually pretty good and certainly clever), we had Minotauromaquia, Pablo en el Laberinto (2005) by Juan Pablo Etcheverry. In the film we find Pablo Picasso stuck inside a maze of his own creation, inside the lines of The Ladies of Avignon. Within the labyrinth he is confronted by real versions of his paintings – he is chased by the Minotaur from Guernica and runs across his ‘Crying Woman’. He must outrun his creations and it is only when he realises that he drew the things that are chasing him does he realise that he can draw his way out. I really liked that this one was animated in stop-motion; the 3D aspect was an effective choice that brought home the fact that Picasso’s drawings had come to life off-the-page.

Minotauromaquia, Pablo en el Laberinto (Dir. Juan Pablo Etcheverry, 2005)

Minotauromaquia, Pablo en el Laberinto (Dir. Juan Pablo Etcheverry, 2005)

Cromo (2012) by Marcel-li Antunez was a great satirical film about an actor applying for funding to set-up his own business. The way his paperwork gets passed up the bureaucrat chain and passed straight back down again had everyone in the screening laughing from the satirically-accurate representation. This was followed by yet more experimental films; Izibene Oñederra‘s Hotzanak, for Your Own Safety (2013), Laura Ginés’s Tengo Miedo (2012), and Frederic Amat’s Estela (2015). Tengo Miedo was another music video that was catchy enough to rival Get Back from the beginning, but not quite as good. Estela was the spiritual sequel to Impresiones en la Alta Atmosfera from earlier too; it was too far out on the experimental limb for me to either understand or enjoy.

The final film was Sangre de Unicornio (Unicorn Blood, 2013) by Alberto Vazquez. This was a great film on many counts, first of all being its concept – cute and cuddly teddy bears are hunting unicorns for their meat. It creates a weird dichotomy of these adorable characters in this pink world and they’re actually very gritty hunters. It was a more extreme dichotomy even than in Ted – the character designs were super, super cute (in their teddy culture, cuteness equals macho-ness) but their attitude is like something from a post-apocalyptic survival story. It’s a very surreal film, but because of its strong story it holds well together despite its weirdness. It is hilarious and very enjoyable to watch because of its absurdity.

Hotzanak, for Your Own Safety (Dir. Izibene Oñederra, 2013)

Hotzanak, for Your Own Safety (Dir. Izibene Oñederra, 2013)

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