Disney Legend Andreas Deja Presents Spanish Premiere of ‘Mushka’ at 18th Animayo

Animayo, Spain’s leading animation festival, is celebrating its 18th edition with the help of Disney legend Andreas Deja who will be presenting his independently-produced short, “Mushka.” “Having Deja choose Animayo to debut his film in Spain is the greatest honor,” said Damian Perea, founder-director of the festival, which unspools May 3-6 on the island of Gran Canaria.

A hand-drawn 2D animated story about an unlikely friendship between a young girl and a Siberian tiger in 1970s’ Soviet Union, “Mushka” is Deja’s directorial debut. His lauded Walt Disney Animation Studio credits include “The Lion King,” “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”

Other notable Spanish premieres at Animayo include that of Jan Bubenicek and Denisa Grimmova’s “Even Mice Belong in Heaven,” about two mortal enemies, a mouse and a fox, who after an accident, find themselves in animal heaven.

Animayo will also treat attendees to the Making of film of “The Peasants” by Dorota Kobiela, based on the novel by Polish Nobel Prize Laureate Wladyslaw Reymont and featuring an animation of realistic and pre-impressionist art in the style of 19th century Polish paintings.

Adding to the spice will be a selection of short films by the renowned indie director-animator, Bill Plympton.

The festival inauguration will include a homage to the late Claudio Biern Boyd, producer, writer, animator and founder of BRB International and Apolo Films (“Dogtanian & The Three Muskehounds”) for his invaluable contribution to Spanish and international animation.

Aside from delivering a Master Class and a workshop, Deja presides over a jury that will select winners out of 60 competing international shorts.

More than 40 guests from as far afield as Ukraine, the Philippines, Canada, the U.S., the Czech Republic, Denmark and the U.K. will be participating in a host of master classes, panels and workshops. Among the subjects to be discussed are artificial intelligence, new technologies, the role of women in the VFX industry, video games and video mapping.

Among the festival’s notable guests are Bobby Chiu and Kei Acereda (“Alice in Wonderland”); VFX producer-artist manager Signe Vinther (“Black Panther,” “Star Wars – The Last Jedi”); Borja Montoro, a character designer (“Moana,” “Mary Poppins Returns”); layout artist Carolina Jiménez (“Joker,” “Game of Thrones”); illustrator and animator Kateryna Ocheredko (“Loving Vincent”); and Albert Barba Cunill, an animation director (“Luck,” The Grinch”).

Founded by Perea to provide opportunities he never had when he was growing up, Animayo’s educational arm is a key component of the festival as is its recruiting section where a slew of leading animation companies will participate. 

These include Skydance Animation, Amuse Studios, Mondo TV Studio, Axis Animation, Redefine, Ghost Fx, Fortiche, Studio Nowake, BWater Animation Studios, Atlantis Animation, 3 Doubles Producciones, BMCaff Studio and Anima Kitchent.

The festival will again offer a scholarship program valued at €500,000 ($555,000) for online and in-person studies in Madrid, Barcelona and other key cities.

“After 18 years, we can clearly see the impact the festival has had on our youth. This was driven home one day when I came across a former student at the airport who told me how he found his calling after attending Animayo,” Perea told Variety, adding: “I have met many former students through the years who have landed good jobs, who learned that they could make a living out of animation, visual effects or videogames.”

Spain’s animation industry is sustaining its growth thank to robust financial incentives in the Canary Islands and across Spain, Perea noted. Couple that with an increasing demand for content from platforms and networks.

Since last year, Animayo Gran Canaria can place two animated short films to vie for an Oscar. Both the winner of Animayo’s International Jury Grand Prize and the best Spanish-language animated short are eligible for consideration in the Academy Awards’ animated short film category.

The Festival counts on the sponsorship of several institutions, led by the Cabildo de Gran Canaria and the Fundación La Caja de Canarias.

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