GKIDS is hoping to continue their strength in the Best Animated Feature category at the Oscars this year. One of the films they’re hoping to do this with, “Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles,” actually chronicles the creative journey of one of cinemas great legends, Luis Buñuel. It’s directed by Salvador Simó.
In the aftermath of his first feature, “L’Age d’Or,” Buñuel is unable to get financing for any future projects. An anthropologist gives him a book about the destitute Las Hurdes village in Spain and is asked to make a documentary about it. Buñuel takes the concept to a friend of his, Ramón Acin, who promises that if he wins the local lottery, he will finance the project. Sure enough, Acin wins the lottery, Buñuel puts together a crew and they all head to the village to start filming what will become, “Land Without Bread.” The crew is aghast at the poverty that the villagers live in and come to learn that many residents earn money by getting government stipends for taking in orphaned children. Buñuel shoots footage of the area but also deliberately stages certain things to film including a donkey getting stung to death by bees and the reenactment of an infant’s funeral. This alarms Buñuel’s crew as he attempts to finish filming before funding dries up.
While “Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles” may seem like an unorthodox nominee, there are several factors working in the movie’s favor. The biggest one is having GKIDS as the distributor. The studio has had an impressive track record at the Oscars since it was established in 2008. They’ve netted 11 nominations in the category and have also gotten in every year since 2013. The film has also gotten love from awards bodies outside the U.S. including receiving four Goya nominations (Spain’s Oscar equivalent) including Best Animated Film and a European Film Award nomination for European Animated Feature Film.
The other ace the film has up its sleeve is the fact that it’s a movie about filmmaking. The Oscars have shown a proclivity in recent years to really embrace films about cinema and showbiz itself. We saw this with films like “The Artist,” “Argo,” “Birdman” and “La La Land.” Taking the subject matter of a filmmaker like Buñuel and telling it through animation could very well prove too hard for Oscar voters to resist.
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