Sultana's Dream

Source: Abano Productions

Sultana’s Dream

Headed by Competition title Rock Bottom, the Spanish titles playing at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival this month showcase a broad palette in terms of visual approaches, target audiences and commercial prospects.

Rock Bottom, directed by María Trénor is the first animated production by Spanish company Alba Sotorra in partnership with Poland’s GS Animation. A love story musical set in the 1970s, the film aims to faithfully capture an authentic style by recreating the aesthetics of the decade’s underground culture using the combination of 2D and rotoscope animation.

The festival’s Contrechamp Competition strand also features two Spanish productions, both with a female-centric narrative and aiming for international appeal. The first is Isabel Herguera’s Sultana’s Dreams produced by Sultana Films, Abano Producións, El Gatoverde, and Uniko, in co-production with Germany’s Fabian & Fred, and sold by Square Eyes.

Inspired by the 1905 book of the same name by Indian writer Rockeya Hussein, the film blends several different animation techniques to thread diverse narrative plots around feminism in Western and Eastern cultures. The film premiered at Spain’s San Sebastian International Film Festival in 2023.

Also playing in Contrechamp is David Baute’s Black Butterflies, backed by Ikiru Films, Tinglado Films, and Panama’s Tunche Films. With dialogue in Spanish, Bengali, Turkana, French, Arabic and English, the film focuses on three women in Paris, Nairobi and Dubai who have all emigrated because of climate change.

Equally as focused on eco-matters is  Izibene Oñederra’s short film When It Comes (It Will Have Your Eyes), which competes in the official selection. It follows the inhabitants of a small community designated as being in an environmental catastrophic situation.  It is produced by Sultana Films.

A second short, featuring in Perspectives showcase, is Begoña Arostegui’s The Change Of The Wheel, a production of Andalusia’s Ferdydurke Films, founded by filmmaker Fernando Franco, who won San Sebastian’s Special Jury Prize in 2017 for Wounded.

Social concerns are also at the heart of family-focused Olivia And The Invisible Earthquake, which is being presented as a work-in-progress in the MIFA market.  Directed by Irene Iborra, it is a co-production between Spain’s Cornelius Films, with Belgium’s Panique!, France’s Vivement Lundi! and Chile’s Pájaro.

Also targeting family audiences is Buffalo Kids, directed by Pedro Solís and Juan Jesús García Galocha, the director behind the 2023 international hit Mummies, whose production company 4Cats Pictures is bringing back its production and creative teams for the new project, a western set in the 1880s. The project is participating in the Annecy Presents section.

Further Spanish talent at the festival includes Manuel Cristóbal, producer of Usman hand-drawn animation The Glassworker, co-produced by Pakistan’s Mano Animation and sold by Charades, which plays in Contrechamp.

Leo Sanchez, winner of the Oscar for best animated short film for The Windshield Wiper with co-director Alberto Mielgo, is now working as a character designer on Simon Otto’s That Christmas for Netflix, presented as a WIP at Annecy.

Dragonkeeper director Salvador Simó is pitching new project Caramel’s Words at MIFA, where Sultana’s Dream producer Cholo Louriero is also pitching María Luquero’s animated series Titan Tofu.

In total, 56 animation companies from Spain are attending Annecy this year.