Phanta Boards ‘Rock Bottom,’ Inspired by the Life, Love and Music of Ex-Soft Machine’s Robert Wyatt (EXCLUSIVE)

Winner of October’s MipJunior Project Pitch for “Princess Anabella,” Dutch studio Phanta Animation has boarded animated music feature “Rock Bottom,” one of Spain’s most singular and ambitious animation projects.

Created by multi-prized Spanish animation director Maria Trenor Colomer, winner of a Berlinale Teddy Award for the 2004 short “With What Shall I Wash It?” “Rock Bottom” is lead produced by the Barcelona-based Alba Sotorra production company.

Sotorra and Phanta’s Jolande Junte serve as producers. Emilio Oliete’s Syldavia Cinema has acquired theatrical distribution rights for Spain.

“Rock Bottom” was confirmed this Tuesday as one of the 57 projects set to be pitched at next March’s 24th Cartoon Movie, Europe’s leading animated movie co-production forum.

Created, written and to be directed by Trenor, the 2D feature with rotoscoping turns on the love story of Bob and Alif, two artists caught in the creative whirlwind of the early ‘70s. It is inspired by the early and extraordinary lives of ex-Soft Machine vocalist and drummer Robert Wyatt whose acclaimed 1973 art rock album gives its title to Trenor’s movie, and lyricist and illustrator Alfreda Benge.

The album was largely composed but then re-conceived with new lyrics after Wyatt fell from a fourth-floor window of a flat in 1973 in a accident which was to leave him paralysed from the waist down.

Songs from “Rock Bottom” and Wyatt’s early ‘70s group Matching Mole will feature on the soundtrack of the film. Though by no means biographical, “Rock Bottom” will also reflect via Bob and Alif’s story on Wyatt’s own time in Deia, Mallorca, where he was taken in by “I, Claudius” writer Robert Graves.

“Rock Bottom” is written by Colomer. Joaquín Ojeda, a co-writer on “With What Shall I Wash It?” serves as assistant director.

The project was introduced to the international animation industry at Cartoon Movie in the forum’s As Concept section in a memorable presentation where Trenor sang one of the songs from Wyatt’s “Rock Bottom” album before talking about her project. It has tapped production incentives from both Spain’s ICAA film agency and Catalonia’s ICEC.

“This is a genuine film, based in realism but using colors and textures to create an ambience and world which is very personal to Maria though very faithful to the era,”  Sotorra told Variety.

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