Home Cartoon movies ‘Unicorn Wars’, excerpt from ‘Birdboy’s’ Alberto Vázquez: poster, first photos

‘Unicorn Wars’, excerpt from ‘Birdboy’s’ Alberto Vázquez: poster, first photos


After receiving arguably the best reception of any title at Tuesday’s Cartoon Movie Croissants Breakfast — a music video that induces approving screams and screeches — the Spanish-French animated feature “Unicorn Wars” has seen its poster and its first stills unveiled during the presentation which looks like a highlight start to this year’s gathering.

Yohann Comte, co-founder of Charades, the film’s commercial agent, also confirmed during the unveiling that “Unicorn Wars” had been sold to Japanese company Riskit. UFO Distribution handles the release of the feature film in France, Barton Films distributes in Spain.

The film is just weeks away from completion, Miñambres said. He figures as a strong candidate to star in the main competition at the Annecy Animation Festival in June, possibly via the Cannes Film Festival.

The latest offering from ‘Birdboy: The Forgotten Children’ director Alberto Vázquez, a Gkids pickup for North America, ‘Unicorn Wars’ is produced by UniKo’s Iván Miñambres and Chelo Loureiro of Abano Producións d Spain, both during the presentation of the cartoon film, as well as Nicolas Schmerkin from Autour de Minuit in France.

Unicorn Wars
Courtesy of UniKo

Vázquez’s second feature was described by Miñambres as “an irreverent fable…a cross between ‘Bambi’ and ‘Apocalypse Now’.”

He has already dazzled during a Work in Progress session at the Annecy Festival last June. There, Vázquez and other creators doubled down on plot details. Set in a prophesied apocalyptic war between religious fanatic teddy bears and environmentalist unicorns, it revolves around two teddy bear brothers, brave Bluey and lily-livered Tubby. Tested with other teddy bear recruits at a Love Camp military base, they are sent to a magical unicorn-occupied forest to search for a missing team. The mission goes terribly wrong.

Beyond the unveiling of the poster and the first stills of the completed sequences (rather than concept art images seen before), Miñambres guided an animated film industry audience through eight sequences.

In a first, the young, all-black unicorn Maria gallops through a ruined cathedral in search of her mother. The charioscuro visual scheme is painted in a tinted blood red, a color scheme that runs through the film.

In the second sequence, Bluey and Tubby arrive as new recruits at a teddy bear boot camp and hold drills chanting the motto “Honor, pain and hugs!” As they practice the exercises, a The cantankerous, cigar-biting Commander Fluffy watches from the desks above.

Another Cartoon Movie sequence featured a storybook exposition flashback using a 2D printed aesthetic similar to that of a medieval bible or the Book of Kells. In this creation myth, we learn the roots of the conflict: long ago, teddy bears discovered the Book of Knowledge, giving them a sense of superiority over animals. But the unicorns rebelled, starting a holy war that ignited the world.

The presentation highlighted how the film moves away from the big-eyed, brightly colored cuddly cartoons of TV animation (the show “Adventure Time” seems like a great reference) while twisting them for adult purposes.

Blood and guts, the frontal nudity of the teddy bear, the salty language punctuated the images. The visuals cut in multiple innovative ways. A battle scene recalls World War I-style trenches, with bears firing a volley of heart-tipped arrows and grenades at unicorns rushing at them.

Traveling through the Enchanted Forest, the bears munch on psychogenic slugs and begin to hallucinate. The movie’s candy necklaces begin to tug and blur, the scene acquires the feel of a black light painting found in an ’80s dorm room.

Comte added that Charades will position the film to target genre and auteur specialist distributors alongside traditional animation buyers.

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Unicorn Wars
Courtesy of UniKo