If it could, one gets the sense that the Museum of Modern Art would rather spend the next couple of months holidaying in Spain. After news that the New York institution will be hosting a full (!) retrospective of that country’s most celebrated living filmmaker, Pedro Almodóvar, they also announced that they’ll be giving a major retro of the little-known art and industry of Spanish animation.
“From Doodles to Pixels: Over a Hundred Years of Spanish Animation” will feature political shorts, animated music videos, TV ads, Europe’s first animated color feature, Garbancito de la Mancha (1945), and everything in between. Do you want to see an AIDS-era love story told through simple notepad animation? How about a stop-motion short about youthful drinking? Or perhaps you want to see riffs on the Western with stick figures, feminist twists on European folk tales in the style of medieval tapestries, or a tale of political violence animated with sand? Seriously, this series has everything.
Screening over 60 short films there’s no shortage of inventive flicks to catch during this week-long affair. In case you need some help narrowing down what you want to watch, we’ve come up with our top 10 picks which you can catch in any of the 8 different programs.
“From Doodles to Pixels: Over a Hundred Years of Spanish Animation” runs from Sept 7-15, 2016 at the Museum of Modern Art.
In the stop-motion pioneer and Aragon native’s “trick” film, a magic spider is stolen from a monkish society of gnomes.
Garbancito de la Mancha
An orphan boy goes up against an ogre, Don Quixote style, to rescue his friends. Produced under challenging circumstances during WWII, this ambitious feature, with a budget exceeding that of many live-action Spanish films of the period, bears the obvious influence of Disney’s Silly Symphony cartoons and the Fleischer Brothers studio.
El mago de los sueños
Macián’s feature length film—the magnum opus of the Spanish animation master—will be presented alongside two short films of his he created in the late 1950s.
In this film inspired by José Luis and Santiago Moro’s bedtime television spot Vamos a la cama and a tale by Hans Christian Andersen, a wizard gives each of six children a dream, visualized in different graphic styles and song. Based in Barcelona, Macián (1929–76) was among Spain’s most accomplished and pioneering producers of animation.
Alongside the Liverpool-band-inspired music video, MoMA will be spotlighting a number of animators who focused on highlighting their own practices in “The Artist’s Trace” program, featuring Buñuel’s surrealism, collage techniques, simple notepad animation, and even a cameo by Picasso.
A music video set to the Beatles song.
Las partes de mí que te aman son seres vacíos
In this short, recalling the surrealism of Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou (1929) and using an impressive array of basic animation techniques, romantic fetishists explore their desires across a dinner table.
Minotauromaquia: Pablo en el Laberinto
In this clay animation tour de force, Pablo Picasso has a series of unnerving encounters with characters from his art.
La gallina ciega
Herguera’s animated urban landscape serves as one of the examples of the “Modern Times” program which will also feature public service announcements, commercials, and even a bedtime marching song.
Against the hip abstraction of a hyperkinetic cityscape of blues and blacks, a blind man reunites with his distracted seeing-eye dog.
Les bessones del carrer de Ponent
Presented as part of the “Next Generation”, Solanas and Riba’s short film will be joined by other recent entries in this all-encompassing animated canon created between 2004 and 2014.
In a gray, stop-motion world, a kidnapped child witnesses the sinister end-of-life Rituals of elderly twin sisters.
La edad de la piedra
In “Humor and Carnage,” you’ll find witty short films like Blanco’s as well as other attempts by Spanish animators to use comedy to deal with the changing political situation in Spain throughout the twentieth century.
From the work of Spain’s famed graphic humorist José Maria González Castrillo (Chumy Chúmez), an allegory of working-class life under the Franco regime.
Blaas’ short is but one example of the increasingly successful Spanish animated industry, precisely what’s foregrounded in the “Destino Hollywood (And Beyond)” program which will also screen more slickly produced short films like Raúl García’s adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart.
This sinister vignette of childhood innocence exploited is as fully realized as a feature despite its short running time.