Annecy: Colombia’s Sabogal’ – History From a Victims’ Viewpoint

Animated Colombian crime feature competes at Annecy

“Sabogal” is a rare and notorious example of animation for adults, with very strong political content. It’s the producers’ – 3da2animation – first sally into entertainment as well as its feature film debut. Despite powerful underlying social criticism, “Sabogal” has been financed, in a healthily democratic move,  by Colombian pubcaster Canal Capital “Sabogal” turns on a lawyer and staunch defender of human rights who is overwhelmed in a country that’s in crisis and is constantly under threat and in danger. But, undaunted, he battles obsessively for justice to be done. The producers of Sabogal, Juan Jose Lozano, Sergio Mejia Forero and Liliana Rincon, plan to continue in this vein, given the success of the film in their country, and its upbeat reception at Annecy.

“Sabogal” is a judicial thriller in defence of for human rights that is very rooted in recent Colombian history. It’s not a documentary, but it wants to be faithful to a political situation, and seems a very committed piece of filmmaking.
Yes, “Sabogal” shows a very specific historic context, a country whose recent history has been marked by cruel violence. What we did was create a product that offered a new narrative and aesthetic perspective, to re-tell the recent history of the country. Our priority, our main objective, is to allow new generations to approach that reality with new eyes.

How does this very special animation format fit in with something as serious as the fight for human rights?
As Colombians, we have grown accustomed to always seeing that reality in the same way. It is more and more difficult to be surprised or moved by anything. Furthermore, history is rarely told from the point of view of the victims, from the point of view of those who have been wronged and are gradually ostracized from official history. Animation allows us to take something that is so close to our day-to-day reality, but which is also so painful that when it is shown in such an unusual way we can start to break down the paradigms used to construct our memory.

The film is now starting to make the rounds on the international festival circuit and is looking for an international sales agent. What’s the state of play there at present?
There are, at present, several sales agents who have shown interest. To date, “Sabogal” has been screened at the International Film Festival and Forum for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. We are quite advanced with negotiations with several international sales agents who have also shown interest.

“Sabogal” was initially a series, if I’m not mistaken. So the feature is a kind of spin-off. Why was the feature made?
Yes, “Sabogal” was indeed initially a series of 13 24-minute episodes, for Colombian public television. 3da2animation is a company that’s worked in animation on the theme of human rights, sexual discrimination, and similar topics since 2006…Our clients have been The United Nations, the Colombian Republic’s Vice President’s Office, etc. and we have found in animation a splendid tool to reflect what we are as a country.

Your company worked before in the documentary field. Why this shift to fiction now?

We worked in the documentary field for 20 years. But social criticism through documentary remains in that domain, the documentary public. With animation we can transcend those limits. With animation, we get to young audiences, adult audiences…

But sales results for animation for adults are not very encouraging.

We are doing this for public TV. That’s why it’s public TV: to raise awareness, to take risks. Public television has realized that with such products it can show young and adult audiences alike our own recent history. Public television networks have enormous possibilities with this type of projects.

“Sabogal” was fully financed by Colombia’s Canal Capital, right? What was the budget?
It was $600,000 (she laughs)

We are interested in 3da2animation’s projects. Can you give us any details in that regard
?
For the production of “Sabogal,” we had to do a fair amount of research on the technological aspects, because, as far as we know, it’s the first time in Latin America that we were capturing facial movement, body movement, voice, all at the same time, and doing the animation with open code software. “Sabogal” was a very demanding experience, which allowed us to learn a lot.
We want to bring all that we learnt to our next projects: another feature that mixes animation and documentary, along similar lines to “Sabogal,” and we are also developing an animated series on the peaceful resolution of conflicts, that provides us with useful tools at a moment when the winds of peace and hope are blowing across Colombia.

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