Quality animation at the Goya 2023, the main Spanish film awards

Alicia G. Arribas.

Madrid, 26 Dec. Spectacular competition this year in the candidates for the Goya Award 2023 -the highest film award in Spain-, in the category of Best Animated Film, with five proposals that coincide only in their very high quality and in the diversity and commitment of their themes, all of them with a message, and only two of them unequivocally for children.

In this range, “Inspector Sun and the curse of the black widow” by Julio Soto stands out, which proposes a twist on children’s themes, since its plot is that of a crime novel, in the style of Agatha Christie’s or Raymond Chandler, transferred to a world of insects that runs parallel to that of humans.

In addition to a technique that has come a long way since the Madrid native’s previous film (“Deep”, 2017), “Inspector Sun and the Curse of the Black Widow” contains a lot of value messages that have earned the film the distinction of “especially recommended for children”.

The main one, its director explains to EFE, is “that no matter how small or insignificant you are, or what you think you are, and I’m not only talking about insects, but in general, in the end you have in your hands the possibility of resolving situations more decisive”.

The film, set in the 1930s aboard a luxury plane traveling from Shanghai to San Francisco, “is a parody of all the archetypes of film noir”, where the ‘femme fatale’ is not lacking.

Soto, a reader since he was a child of “novels where there were suspects and the culprit had to be found”, realized that ‘noir’ had never been treated in the children’s sphere and thought that he should recover it because “it has enormous potential, even for do series”, he considers.

He understands that his audience is over 5 years old: “There are many characters, there is a plot, there is a lot of talk and for the little ones it is complicated.”

A murder, a stowaway, ruined millionaires, black widows, smugglers and thousands of ants come together in this universe where spiders are in control.

“There is no child who remains indifferent to spiders, due to attraction or repulsion. They are the tip of the trophic pyramid, thanks to them the world is free of pests, they eat everything: flies, wasps, mosquitoes… I wanted to remove them the stigma and give them back the leading role”, points out Soto.

Inspector Sun is based on a character from the 1930s in the US, Charlie Chan, the first Asian actor to play an important role, explains Soto, and is also “a bit of Hercule Poirot.” Janey, a small orphaned jumping spider who sneaks into Sun’s cabin, is “her humorous counterpoint to him” of him, while the widow, who is “elegant, fine and polite”, is always cutting down on Sun.

“There is a lot of work behind it to prevent these stereotypes from offending anyone, we have a femme fatale who does not experience sexist situations, and the assistant is a girl. There is no formula, but we try to leave everything very level,” Soto confesses.

And he warns that here, “ants are not third-class citizens, nor slaves, nor carriers, but rather the ones who run the show. And there is a rich man who eats shit… -he laughs-. Whoever wants to, will find a political message, above all, anti-class. He will find it critical, he will be offended or not, or he will laugh, because the intention is funny”, he affirms.

The film competes this year with three films aimed at an adult audience, “Black is Beltza II: Ainoha”, by Hugo Castro and Jone Unanuea; the Spanish-Portuguese co-production “Los demonios de barro”, by Nuno Beato, and the pacifist “Unicorn War”, by Galician Alberto Váquez.

All of them are facing the return of Tadeo Jones, by Enrique Gato, who has won every time he has competed in the Goyas with this character. That was the case with his presentation in the short “Tadeo Jones” (2004); in 2008 with the first feature film installment, “Tadeo Jones and the cursed basement”, and in 2012 with “The adventures of Tadeo Jones”.

Now comes -preceded by a ‘blockbuster’ of 30 million euros in revenue-, ten years later, “Tadeo Jones 3: The emerald table”.

“What has happened this year with animation at the Goyas is crazy; we spent two or three years almost without representation, and suddenly there are five or six to consider, it’s crazy, but wonderful madness because that means that the industry is working and Spain is a world benchmark”, says Soto.

The winner will be known in Seville, on February 11, 2023 at the Goya gala. EFE


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Quality animation at the Goya 2023, the main Spanish film awards