“‘Homeless Home’ shows us how much we’ve progressed over the years”  

Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.

2021-02-15

With a Goya nomination for Best Animated Short Film under his belt, Alberto Vázquez rounds off a great year with ´Homeless Home´, produced by UniKo. Vázquez has been making stories and history with the Basque production company, garnering him a space at some of the leading international film festivals. Zineuskadi caught up with the filmmaker from A Coruña to talk about the short film and his plans for the future.

- How did you hear the news that you had been nominated?

- We watched the gala online because we knew we stood a chance since our short film has had a good run. Among other awards, it won the Jury Prize at the Annecy Festival, the most important animation festival in the world, which was a massive boost. We’re now working on a film with several studios. We watched the gala from the Galician office with the team, since part of the team is also working on this new project. We were incredibly happy and toasted to the nomination.

- In view of the success of the short film, what are your chances of clinching the Goya?

- Our probabilities lie in the statistics (laughs). We have a good international track record, with several prestigious awards, which can be positive. What happens with this award is that 1600 academy members vote, not all of them go to see the short films, and it also depends a lot on the personal support you have. Being Basque and Galician, we’re are a bit on the periphery, because most of them are from or live in Madrid. But we’ve already won other Goyas and we do have a track record as a company, the production company, myself as director, the team... so I think we have a chance.

- 2020 was a difficult year for the industry, but you have done very well with ´Homeless Home´.

- It’s been a very bad year for feature film releases in particular. In the case of short films, premieres tend to be at festivals, which, although many are online, at least they’re happening. It´s not the same, because you can´t travel to places, you can´t present your project, you can´t talk about it... although you can do interviews online. It´s what we´ve had to live with; we´ve had to adapt and accept it.

- For those who haven´t had the chance to see the short, how would you present it to them?

- It’s a film of about 15 minutes set in a medieval fantasy world starring demons, witches, orcs... but the subject matter and problems of the characters are completely contemporary. For example, an economic and social crisis that makes them return to their villages of origin, addiction problems, young people who have to come home to take care of their sick parents... The idea was to play with this medium of medieval fantasy, but to talk about current issues. That´s where the appeal of this short. It´s intimate and social in a genre that doesn´t usually do that. It all starts from what they call depopulated Spain, which are these villages that have fallen into decadence because they’ve been emptied.

- What is your assessment of what you are achieving?

- It´s been tremendous. All of our films are having a very good run. ‘Homeless Home´ follows along the lines of the previous ones. It´s a long-distance race: it´s the fourth short film we´ve made. We´ve also made a feature film, and now we´re working on the second one. Everything is improving because we´re also getting better. From the first short film to this one we’ve learned a lot, gained a lot of experience, have more contacts and more means. This last short film has been a huge leap in terms of financing. It’s a Basque-French co-production and this collaboration allows you to double the money you can use.

- Even though it wasn’t meant to be, the Annecy Festival itself selected you as candidates for the Oscars.

- That’s right. We knew it was a long shot. The Oscars tend to select a certain type of short film from the Pixar, Disney orbit... from bigger companies and which, moreover, tend to have a brighter message. Our short is quite dark; there´s sex, there´s violence, and that´s difficult to watch. We don´t really make short films to win Oscars or Goyas, otherwise we would make other kinds of products, more for children, for all audiences... If that were my objective, I’d change the way I approach the stories and what I want to tell, since it isn’t, we remain faithful to our spirit. Whatever recognition we get is always appreciated.

- You mentioned that you’re working on a feature film. Can you tell us about the projects you’re currently involved in?

- I’ve been working for three years on a project that is now in production. We plan to release it in 2022. It´s called ´UnicornWars´, and it´s a kind of epic fable about a war between bears and unicorns in a magical forest. It´s a kind of reinterpretation of some of the films that have marked me, such as ´Apocalypse Now´ or ´Platoon´. We’re really pleased because it’s a project that has generated quite a lot of expectation within the animation sector, and we’ve already presented it at some important festivals.

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