The name of the L.A.-based festival that celebrated its inaugural edition in October is declarative: Animation Is Film. But that manifesto is only partially upheld by Santiago Caicedo
’s black-and-white feature “Virus Tropical
,” which is closely adapted from the graphic novel of the same name by Power Paola, the nom de plume of Colombian-Ecuadorian cartoonist Paola Gaviria
. This is most definitely a striking animation, but whether its storytelling passes muster is quite another matter.
The visual treatment here, following the lead of Gaviria’s own art direction (she reportedly produced about 5,000 individual drawings for the film) is the source of a great deal of the film’s charm, as it combines with deliberate naiveté a variety of different lo-fi, 2D black-and-white styles, from its boldly graphic, childlike, line-drawn characters, to the rickety, intricate cityscape backdrops, to the more prettified, watercolor-wash-style interludes of cloudy skies and birds in trees. And while the