As Colombia emerges from the depths of civil war into an uncertain but optimistic future, there’s still plenty of reckoning to be done. What better place to start than with decades of government corruption and killings that went entirely unchecked save for the efforts of a few brave journalists and human rights lawyers who risked their lives to uncover the truth? There’s no better way to honor them than with a four-hour, thirteen-part animated thriller made for Colombian public television.
The term “animated thriller” may sound more fitting for a project coming out of Japan or France, but Sabogal is a groundbreaking work in Latin America, where animation is still more typically associated with children’s programming. Produced by the Bogotá-based 3da2 Animation Studios, Sabogal brings together diverse animation techniques – including the first-ever use of motion capture in Colombian television – and invokes the language of film noir and adult-oriented comic books like Sin City, rather than Saturday-morning cartoons.
Based on real events, Sabogal kicks off with the murder of cherished comedian and outspoken anti-corruption crusader Jaime Garzón in 1999. From there, the fictional lawyer Sabogal takes on the Garzón family’s case and heads down a dangerous rabbit hole as he begins to peel back the layers of corruption and criminality in Colombian society. Along the way, the narrative intersperses traumatic events, like the massacres of Mapiripán and El Salado, to make clear that this fictional story is actually closer to the truth than some might think.
Sabogal premiered on Colombian television earlier this year and is currently making rounds at international festivals. It screened most recently as part of the official competition at the 55th Annecy International Animation Festival, the world’s most important showcase of animated cinema.
Check out the “Making Of” here, and see how a team of over 140 people came together to vindicate their nation’s history, revolutionizing Latin American animation along the way.