Sultana's Dream

Source: Courtesy of Fábrica Naranja de Películas

Sultana’s Dream

Films That Matter, the nascent social impact label of Hamburg-based distributor Luftkind Filmverleih, has picked up German rights to Spanish director Isabel Herguera’s feminist animation Sultana’s Dream which made its world premiere last week in San Sebastian and is now screening at Filmfest Hamburg.

Sultana’s Dream is about a young Spanish woman´s globe-spanning journey to intellectual and spiritual awakening. It is based on a 1905 feminist parable by Bengali writer Begum Rokeya, or Rokeya Sahkawat Hossain

“We loved the world of Sultana’s Dream, the incredible unique animation style and, above all, the director’s vibrant energy,” said Vanessa Ciszewski, managing director of Luftkind.

Ciszewski and Luftkind’s head of marketing Olga Baruk had been following the project since they first met Herguera and the film’s German co-producer Fabian Driehorst when the latter presented footage of Sultana’s Dream during the fifth edition of European Work in Progress in Cologne in 2022.

“This feminist animation presents the opportunity to advocate for women’s rights, a matter that is close to our heart,” said  Ciszewski.  “Rokeya Hussain’s dream - the Ladyland - is not just a wish for women to live in freedom and men to confine themselves to housework, Ladyland is a place where women can invent, shape and develop the world. As early as 1905, the author envisioned solutions to India’s climate problems. This visionary book has inspired us to develop a campaign with a positive impact. A feminist utopia.”

The Films that Matter label was created by Luftkind to extend its activities to social impact distribution. It now plans to hire a social impact producer to organise various events and debates to be held before the film’s release on March 7, 2024, the day before International Women’s Day. 

‘Sultana’s Dream’ review

“We live in times when such things as shared dreaming has become difficult,” Baruk added. “Sultana’s Dream is, above all, a story about this great longing for utopias, for daring visions for the future. A longing for a foundation to hold on to in this world where everything has become so complicated. Even relationships, or one’s own identity and femininity.”

Herguera’s feature debut will also screen in an out of competition slot at International Animation Competition at DOK Leipzig next week. 

Young audiences 

Luftkind Filmverleih was founded in 2020 with an eye on developing young audiences through art and culture. Releases so far include  Romanian filmmaker Anca Damian’s animation film Maron’s Fantastic Tale and programmes of animated short  films aimed at four and five year olds.  

Luftkind is now also expanding into the co-production of animation features to secure films for its distribution pipeline.

The first project is Animals’ Christmas (Weihnachten der Tiere), whose production is being supervised by the Hamburg-based animation studio Fabian & Fred. It is a 2D digital animated omnibus film consisting of five short winter tales, with the French Oscar-nominated company Les Valseurs serving as lead producer.

“We are thrilled to be accompanying the Hamburg-based director Ceylan Beyoğlu  for her chapter The Little Chick,” said Ciszewski “The theatrical release is planned for autumn 2024, with the prospect of offering a film suitable for first-time moviegoers, and a film that celebrates Christmas, winter and nature.”

Luftkind is also a partner on Special Touch Studios’ production of Rony Hotin’s Sidi Kaba and The Gateway Home which begins animation work in January 2024.

“The worlds of Kirikou and Myazaki come together in an epic and magical adventure for a great family film,” Ciszewski says..

On the German side, the film has already received production funding from two regional film funds, MFG Baden-Württemberg and MOIN, and the Franco-German Mini-Traité programme, as well as the official support from Unesco.