A José María Fernández de Vega (Almendralejo, 1977) his cell phone battery has run out several times in the last 72 hours. «First calls before to wish you luck, then during when the moment came and now congratulations after. “I have to be answering messages for a week.” When asked which one has confused him the most, he answers that those of people from Las Hurdes. «They tell me that we have reviewed the Buñuel’s relationship with Las Hurdes “and with this film they close the black legend, they are very grateful and that means we are moving forward,” said yesterday one of the producers of ‘Buñuel in the Turtles’ Labyrinth’, since yesterday best animated film of the Goya 2020 , all without platforms like Netflix behind it or marketing investments whose figures are dizzying compared to any Disney or Marvel animated film.
Having just returned to Almendralejo, this 42-year-old from Extremadura put the name of his town before the microphones when it was his turn to thank him. He said that he had finally achieved his dream: to dedicate himself to making animated films in Almendralejowhere he has his production company The Glow. In the capital of Tierra de Barros the first step was taken to put movement into the comic of Fermin Solis (Madroñera, 1972). The material and the idea proposed by these two people from Extremadura were so good that several producers joined the project. Fernández de Vega reflected yesterday after the Goya with lucidity, but above all without complex. He explained to this newspaper that “the award for ‘Buñuel in the Turtle Labyrinth’ represents the maturity of Extremaduran cinema. It is clear that there are still things to do, but the fact that this was the result of an international co-production means much more than if it had been one hundred percent from Extremadura, only for our consumption. This means that we can now grow because we know how to look for partners outside and that’s why we can finally do big projects. This applies not only to animation but to cinema in general and serves to remove complexes.”
three better than one
Those who sniffed out the quality of an initially Extremaduran product were those who took the stage on Saturday night before and after José María Fernández de Vega did so. Manuel Cristobala Madrid producer who already has four goyas, was the first.
When he saw what they were up to in Almendralejo he liked it and joined; and when they were running out of money and energy, the Valencian appeared Alex Cervantes that gave them the last push, emotionally and financially. “That the result is not one hundred percent from Extremadura is not something to be ashamed of but rather to be proud of,” declared this producer from Almendralejo who still has to take his film to the Platino Awards, an Ibero-American film competition in which they have also been nominated. .
The Goya-winning film cost 1.8 million, was released in October 2018 and after a year and a half of festival tours, it barely has any left to go, acknowledges the Extremaduran producer, which is why he has been embarking on many other projects for months. “Since the premiere, a German film, two American films and another Irish film have hired the services of The Glow, which means that our way of working is competitive all over the world,” said someone who can now say that he is fulfilling his dream of making cartoons from Almendralejo.
The future: “We have seen a gap of untold stories”
José María Fernández de Vega has two daughters, Alicia and Esther, aged 9 and 10. Without knowing it, they are influencing what could be the animation trend in Spain. The producer of The Glow says that he is already involved in his next project, based on Fermín Solís’ book ‘Operation Frankenstein’. It is about three brothers who in the nineties went on various adventures, plots that the author relates to classic cinema. «Fermín and I have children and we like what they see, but we have both seen a gap of untold stories and I think what we are doing can have much further progress. At the moment, we are with the pilot of what could be a future cartoon series that we hope will find financing in 2020,” he said yesterday.