Contemporary World Cinema | 2017 | 96 minutes
Stranger Says: Richly detailed black-and-white animation brings Paola Gaviria’s graphic memoir to entertaining, if somewhat solipsistic, life. In 1976, Paola’s self-proclaimed psychic mother, who had her tubes tied, is shocked to find that she’s pregnant. “Must be a tropical virus,” quips her doctor. Santiago Caicedo’s adaptation captures the ups and downs of Paola’s childhood: adventures with Catholicism, sweet and sour times with her sisters, and a transformational move from Ecuador to Colombia where she finds her calling as an artist. It’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl by way of Persepolis set to a Latin American beat.
SIFF Says:Conceived despite her parents’ best efforts during a stormy night in Quito, little Paola Gaviria didn’t stand much of a chance sandwiched between prickly middle sister Patty, flighty oldest sister Claudia, embittered ex-priest dad Uriel, and fortune-telling mom Hilda. An inquisitive, highly sensitive girl who discovered that drawing her reality helped her understand it, Paola would quickly become her family’s beating heart while herself navigating a youth marked by shifting fortunes, divorce, addiction, and home life that would often unravel yet never give in, in this beautifully animated adaptation of the hit graphic novel. Winner of this year’s SXSW Audience Award (Global), director Santiago Caicedo weaves a funny, sharp, and tender autobiographical portrait of the shifting emotional sands between sisters, parents, mothers, and their daughters. The latest in a bold and exciting new wave of Latin American animation, VIRUS TROPICAL’s simple and direct style breathes life into a tale that moves to the rhythms of real life, relatable to anyone who’s fought to find themselves within the din of a troubled yet loving family.
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