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Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles – Watch the trailer for the Spanish animated feature

BFI Distribution has announced that its latest new acquisition, the multi-award-winning Spanish animated feature, Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles, directed by Salvador Simó, will premiere on-demand on BFI Player’s Subscription service on 16 July 2020.

Using traditional 2D hand-drawn animation and a fresh way of re-telling a transitional moment in cinema history, the film recounts the fascinating true story of how Luis Buñuel (1900-1983) made his second film, Las Hurdes: Land Without Bread. The stranger-than-fiction tale is a compelling and often amusing portrayal of the character of young filmmaker Luis at the beginning of his long career. The film’s haunting orchestral score is by the Spanish composer and pianist Arturo Cardelús, an associate of the Royal Academy of Music, and was partly recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London.

Based on the graphic novel Buñuel en el laberinto de las tortugas by illustrator and strip-cartoonist Fermin Solis, the film begins at the end of 1932. After the scandal of L’Age d’Or, the surrealist comedy Buñuel made with Salvador Dalí had left him penniless, his warm-hearted friend, the sculptor Ramón Acín, declares that if he wins the Spanish Christmas lottery he will give the prize money to Buñuel for his next film. Miraculously Acín’s ticket wins and he supports Buñuel in the making of a quasi-documentary on one of the poorest areas in Spain, Las Hurdes.

BUÑUEL IN THE LABYRINTH OF THE TURTLES cleverly blends the animated scenes of Buñuel and his team’s journey and filmmaking experience with the powerful, often shocking real footage from the finished documentary; Buñuel sometimes heightened reality for dramatic effect. Surrealistic scenes give an insight into his state of mind and the demons that were haunting him.

Salvador Simó is a film director and scriptwriter. After studying animation in Los Angeles, he worked in Spain, in Paris (at Disney) and in London at MPC, in previsualisation and layout on films including Narnia, Prince Caspian, The Werewolf, The Prince of Persia and the Bond film Skyfall. A second stint in London saw him working as head of film sequences on The Jungle Book and Pirates of the Caribbean. His preparation for BUÑUEL IN THE LABYRINTH OF THE TURTLES included many conversations with Buñuel’s son, Juan Luis, which Simó describes as being ‘full of details, laughter and affection.’

The film’s screenplay is by Eligio Montero and Salvador Simó and the producers are Manuel Cristóbal, José M Fdez de Veg and Bruno Felix. The production companies are Sygnatia, The Glow, Submarine, Hampa Studio, Telemadrid and Canal Extremadura TV.

BUÑUEL IN THE LABYRINTH OF THE TURTLES premiered at the Animation is Film Festival in Los Angeles in October 2018 where it won the Special Jury Award. In August 2019 it was shortlisted to be the Spanish entry for the 92nd Academy Awards for Best International Feature film (but lost to Pain and Glory). It has won numerous awards at festivals including Annecy, Chilemonos and the Málaga Spanish Film Festival, and won Best European Animated Feature Film at the European Film Awards 2019. Arturo Cardelús has also won awards and prize nominations for his beautiful score. He enlisted the help of the Royal Academy of Music where he was once a student, and an emotive choral section was recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios with 40 singers from the Academy’s Musical Theatre Choir.

BUÑUEL IN THE LABYRINTH OF THE TURTLES will be a companion to a collection of Buñuel films that are available on BFI Player; UN CHIEN ANDALOU (1928), L’AGE D’OR (1930), DEATH IN THE GARDEN (1956), BELLE DE JOUR (1967), TRISTANA (1970) and THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE (1972).

BFI Player ( is the greatest global cinema on demand; the go-to destination for all film lovers in the UK, that offers a different type of streaming experience. There are brand new releases to watch on rental and a subscription service expertly curated by BFI programmers and special guests, offering classic and cult films. Recent collections include selections by Tilda Swinton and Bong Joon Ho and a huge range of Japanese cinema in JAPAN2020. Also available, completely free for anyone to view, are films and collections from the BFI National Archive and regional archives, including 120 years of BRITAIN ON FILM. BFI Player is accessible through the BFI website and through a range of video platforms, including Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV. BFI Player Subscription offers a 14-day free trial and is then £4.99 a month.

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