‘Unicorn Wars’ Helmer Alberto Vazquez’s Next, ‘Decorado,’ to Le Pacte

“Decorado,” the awaited next animated feature film from Alberto Vázquez, director of 2015’s “Birdboy: The Forgotten Children” and last year’s “Unicorn Wars,” has been boarded by Le Pacte.    

One of France’s most important independent film companies, a distributor in France of Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive” and Ken Loach’s “I: Daniel Blake” among its biggest foreign hits, Le Pacte, headed by Jean and Alice Labadie, has acquired rights to “Decorado” for distribution in France and international sales.

“We picked up ‘Decorado’ because we were in love with ‘Unicorn Wars’ and ‘Decorado is even crazier,” said Jean Labadie. “We love animation and bold projects which are out of boundaries.” 

The “Decorado” feature was presented at Cartoon Movie in March where its producers met Le Pacte and initiated discussions after Le Pacte’s expressions of enthusiasm for the story and the project.

Vázquez’s follow-up to “Unicorn Wars,” a Gkids U.S. pick-up like “Birdboy,” “Decorado” expands upon the universe of the same-titled short which world premiered to acclaim at the Cannes Festival’s 2016 Directors’ Fortnight. 

In the short feature, Arnold, a middle-aged mouse in midst of existential crisis, suffers an ever mounting suspicion that he’s living on a TV set, with even his wife seemingly mouthing commercials for coffee from ACME (a Company that Makes Everything). Acquaintances talk about their roles in a short which resembles Arnold’s life; at times Arnold thinks he’s heard snatches of audience laughter. 

The short is set up as a series of micro-sketches, separated by intertitles proclaiming “Decorado,” the word sung by a choir as if re-announcing a TV comedy after a commercials break.

“Decorado” won a Spanish Academy Goya for best animated short and has been described as “The Truman Show” meets Ingmar Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal.”

“Decorado” the feature is produced by Iván Miñambres for UniKo, Chelo Loureiro at Abano Producións, Jose María Fernández de la Vega for The Glow Animation Studio and Sardinha em Lata’s Nuno Beato.

Jose Luis Ágreda (“Buñuel in the Labyrinth of Tortoises,” “Robot Dreams”) is on board as art director. Currently in pre-production, the film will be ready in 2025.

The feature is an existential comedy that aims to reflect on the very meaning of life, “on what we are or what family and friends mean to us,” said Miñambres, which has worked with Vázquez since his first short, “Birdboy.” 

“I’m interested in addressing social injustices, economic and health crises, and above all, love and friendship, which are the only things that can save us in times of crisis in life,” said Vázquez.

Not all elements of the short, however, may make the feature, many of whose details have yet to be revealed. Two aspects that are known is that the feature will be 2D and that while the short was made in black and white, the feature will be colorised.

“For a feature film, we couldn’t miss out on the expressive opportunities that color brings us, especially considering Alberto’s great use of color as a narrative element in his filmography,” said Miñambres. 

“Decorado” is a natural evolution of Alberto’s work. This time, it takes the form of an existential fable about the meaning of life and individual freedom. From the beginning, we wanted to take special care of the screenplay,” he added.

The upcoming movie again features anthropomorphic animal characters, universal figures without a specific time or place. Everything takes place in a city called Anywhere.

“If there’s something that sets this film apart from previous ones, it’s the use of humor. It’s a movie with many narrative and visual gags, contrasting with the previous productions that were very dark dramas. We want the audience to fully enjoy the experience and reach a more universal and broad audience,”Miñambres observed.

“Decorado” continues a strong line in animation in Le Pacte’s  distribution slate for France. Upcoming releases take in Neil Boyle and Kirk Hendry’s castaway coming of age tale “Kensuke’s Kingdom”; CMG’s hot-selling Peruvian feature “Kayara”; 3D family-targeting comedy “Panda Bear in Africa,” also from CMG; and “In the Dark and Mysterious Forest,” produced by France’s Je Suis Bien Content and directed by Vincent Paronnaud (“Persepolis”) and Alexis Ducord. 

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