Ánima Buenos Aires / Ánima Buenos Aires Argentina | 2012 | 95 min. | Director: María Verónica Ramírez | Animation | Spanish with English subtitles
It seems predestined that I should review Ánima Buenos Aires. First of all, I love animation and especially Latin American animation. For years now I’ve followed CLFF’s selection of choice animated shorts with quiet, distant observations, as a sideline critic savoring the delicacies of my favorite mixing of independent artistry and Latin American subjects and language. It’s like a secret world of mysteries hidden among the millions of other selections and films, all hand picked just for the me, the avid avant film nerd. Animation, in Latin America takes on a completely surreal and often political, poignant and exacting tone. This is perhaps why I enjoy it more than most other animation from around the world.
In this kaleidoscope vision of Argentina, we see the entire world for all its error, humor and mystery presented in four shorts directed by Maria Verónica Ramirez tying in the artistic range of several graphic artists, Florencia Faivre and Pablo Faibre on Meado por los perros, Pablo Rodriguez Jauregui on Claustrópolis, Carlos Nine on Bu-Bu, and Caloi on Mi Buenos Aires herido. As a whole the film is exceptional, only dragging about slightly on the second short, Claustrópolis which offers the simplest plot and the least visually exciting animation style, with an earnest and endearing story. My favorite of the clips has to be the first (Meado por los perros) for it’s social commentary and hyperbolic critique, and the last (Mi Buenos Aires herida) for it’s poetic humor. The third short (Bu-Bu) is by far the most visually and masterfully executed animation, capturing a sense of inventiveness and ridiculousness, infused in a succinct and biting narrative.
The music and mastery of the first and last shorts go above and beyond all expectations, but the interluding intro, graffiti stencil animations that break up the animations, should be noted on their own as well. They add a much needed sense of unity to the entire work, which would still tie in together nicely. However, with the intro animations you really feel a sense of intention and cohesion throughout, that might otherwise have been lacking. Again, the uniqueness and the hilarity of these films individually could and should win awards, but together they are a tour de force, and it’s no surprise Ánima Buenos Aires won the Coral Award for Best Animated Feature at last year’s Havana International Film Festival.
Now returning to my favorite two of the anthology, you might remember back in 2011 when I wrote about the unfortunate and distasteful Hans-Peter Feldmann, Guggenheim show in contrast to Mexico City artist, Eder Castillo, and his magnificent and lighthearted critique of institutional art via the bouncy house Guggencito project. Well, it all comes full circle with the animated short Meado por los perros. When the ironic Guggenheim supermarket lands like an invading NAFTA, free trade ship upon a quaint neighborhood in Buenos Aires, destroying the local economy and decimating the livelihood of a small butcher, the big box, Walmart-poking model of capitalist intervention in Latin America is turned on its head as the film proclaims its singular truth against first world condescension.
In a similar fashion the final work stands out for its insight and humor on macho, conquistador tendencies to obsessively objectify the female body. Presenting a panoramic of Argentina from colonization to rapid, pissed-about industrialization, we see modernization and urbanization as inconsequential effects, changing little to nothing about the male species. But, despite the wonderful music and raunchy, humor we’re reminded that in the end being human is actually funny business. In the end, we’re called to laugh, smile, take pleasure in the oddities of life, and to always, always, enjoy ourselves for the little time we have with ourselves and our own imaginations on this madcap planet.