Horyou met the warm and enthusiastic Colombian producers Juan José Lozano, Liliana Rincon and Sergio Mejia at the FIFDH (International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights) in Geneva where they debuted a well-anticipated film: “Sabogal.” The movie is unique in many ways. First, it is an animated documentary series on Colombian history turned into an 80-minute film especially for this festival. Behind the animation lies a country’s history, a desire to make it known and an original approach that is gathering a lot of positive attention. Even though it delves into a dark part of the history of the country, the film is designed to awaken the knowledge of its youth. It seeks to teach them their history and consequently their legacy so the mistakes of the past do not become those of the future.
On “Sabogal,” Columbian youth and history:
Premiered at the FIFDH, “Sabogal” is a legal thriller inspired by a true story. It focused on a lawyer with many contradictions in his life. He is a different kind of hero – a drug lord hero hailed by popular Colombian television. The film is packed with Colombian history. “We did immense research on the socio-violence in the country in the past 10 years and plotted that from an animation angle because we had a specific audience reach in mind,” Lozano said. The producers had one target: the youth, from 25 to their 30s. Why? “Columbia has been in the same situation for about 50 years; we hear the same narrative, the same stories, and at some point we become immune to it. The youth become disconnected very easily,” he said. The goal is to connect them to their history through animation that tells a true story.
On using animation to change mentalities:
When asked if using animation was a way to soften the harsh history of Colombia, Mejia replied with a firm shaking of his head: “No. In fact it is a different way to present and dramatize reality,” he said. “The distancing that animation creates allows the public to see the situation completely differently. It’s disconnecting them to reconnect them in a new way.” In Colombia, creating a simple documentary would mean not reaching the audience they wanted. Popular television in the country is drowned in a sea of telenovelas (dramas and soap operas), where crime is glamorized and the message is that crime pays. The stories are focused on drug lords, bosses and people regular individuals cannot relate to. For the team, it’s about changing mentalities and pulling away from that criminal mindset: “We believe we can change minds through animation because we offer a documentary in drawings,” Mejia said. “We use the narration codes of thrillers, fiction, crime novels and suspense that engage people.” The series started two weeks ago in Columbia. “Every Sunday two chapters are shown. We’re at the forth episode and even now we can see the reactions are positive, especially on social media. It’s not easy, as it’s shown on a small channel and we are facing the giants of Colombian popular television,” Mejia said.
On Dreaming, Inspiring and Acting
The series was tailored to be shown at the FIFDH: from a 13-episode series of about 300 minutes to a film of 80 minutes. “For the public here at the festival, we took away the cultural references and jokes to tell more of an international story. We want the public to know Colombia’s story, to see it from a new angle,” Rincon said. “Our dream is for it to echo back to Columbia so that people can see that the world is talking about us.” The team’s true dream really lies in the youth of their country seeing their history in a different light. “We want them to analyze, take a step back and mostly we want to generate debate. We pushed ourselves to have a variety of subjects in the series so people will react and talk. The more the youth debate, the more they realize there’s an issue,” Rincon said. She added that what they do is dream of a better Colombia, which inspires them in turn to act by creating a series that will change the mentalities in their country.