The film is about the importance of biodiversity for the cultural identity and the economic independence of Latin America. This animated documentary is based on a conversation with Brigitte Baptiste—leading biodiversity expert, transgender activist, and longtime head of the "Instituto Humboldt", the world's only institute for biodiversity research. The interview was recorded in Bogota in 2019. (prod note)
The Institute is an animated documentary based on the filmmaker's interview with Brigitte Baptiste, head of the Instituto Humboldt in Bogota. Baptiste is a transgender activist and Colombia's most prominent environmental protectionist, as well as one of the world's leading experts in biodiversity. In her complex discussion, she explains the interconnections between colonialism, the hegemony of scientific discourse and contemporary fantasies in regard to progress. She speaks as a mediator whose every word resonates with decades of experience in elucidating complicated relationships.
It was the right decision to transform this interview into an animation film, and to complement Baptiste's text with imagery that precisely focuses the institute and its environs, its plant diversity and fabulous aural backdrop: the minimalistic drawings allow us to enjoy the modernist architecture, the understated interior, exuberant plants and lushly blossoming exteriors. The sound design renders the aural diversity of wind, water and chirping crickets palpable, and allows Brigitte Baptiste's penetrant voice to dominate the dramaturgy. The filmmaker animates his portrait of the icon of biodiversity in broad brush strokes, while presenting her fine and ironic sense of humor – as when Baptiste explains that Colombia is dreaming of biodiversity as "the new oil, the new El Dorado." The film captivates viewers with its wide array of imagery, from a panorama of Bogota or models of plant genes to the traditional interview/dialogue situation – and its aesthetic has a seductive power. What a great idea to capture in one fell swoop transgressive gender norms and the expansion of biodiversity using drawings that come to life.
(Andrea B. Braidt)
Animation, Documentary, Avantgarde/Arts