15/03/2019 Documentary “Llinás: El Cerebro y el Universo”, directed by Chilean Gonzalo Argandoña, wins India Catalina Award

Last Saturday, the Audiovisual Industry India Catalina Awards were presented, celebrated annually in Cartagena, Colombia since 1984, within the Cartagena International Film Festival (FICCI).

The documentary Llinás: El Cerebro y el Universo, directed by Gonzalo Argandoña, obtained the award for Best TV Documentary for his work alongside production company Cábala. This audiovisual piece was financed by Señal Colombia (the country’s public TV channel), in association with Colciencias.

This production presents the life and work of Dr. Rodolfo Llinás, one of the great Latin American scientists, of Colombian origin, and who has spent a large part of his career in the United States, obtaining world recognition for his contributions to the science of the brain and nervous system. The documentary approaches this character’s big passions, blending concepts of neuroscience and astronomy. We speak with Argandoña about the details of the documentary and the award.

– Who formed part of the development of this production?

It’s a production done by our company, Cábala, for Colombian public TV (Señal Colombia), in association with Colciencias, who became interested in leaving an audiovisual legacy about this character who is so important to Latin American science. Despite this character’s importance, until now, no documentary had been made to gather his ideas and his legacy, which is why we were happy to take on the challenge and make this content into an audiovisual work capable of reaching large audiences. For the production of the documentary, we formed a multidisciplinary crew of professionals and technicians from Colombia, Chile, and the United States.

– How long were you filming this documentary?

We did the work of investigation and the script in 2016. The shoot occurred throughout 2017, filmed in the United States, mainly in New York, Boston, and Woods Hole, a small down on the east coast, where there is a very emblematic laboratory and where the documentary protagonist also built an enormous telescope in the backyard of his home (in fact, it’s the largest observatory built by a private citizen in the United States). We also shot in Colombia, exploring the character’s early years and his relationship with Latin America. We were intrigued by his constant work. One of his premises was not wasting time. Something we took on very quickly in order to take advantage of every minute we spent with him. At all times, the doctor was doing some activity, from his work at the NYU Medical Center in New York, to his lab at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole.

– What is the search behind the filming of this documentary?

We seek to cinematically portray a very attractive and fascinating character, of which until now there wasn’t an exhaustive report. It was a privilege to share weeks of filming with Rodolfo Llinás, get to know his lines of investigation, many of them pioneer concepts in the world. It was also a whole challenge bringing concepts down to an audiovisual and aesthetic level that are many times very abstract, and bringing that content to an accessible and comprehensible language, thinking that it’s a documentary conceived for television, and that constitutes a very important tool in the construction of identity and culture.

– What importance do you attribute to this award and what does it mean for you?

For Cábala, it’s an enormous source of pride professionally and on a human level, having had the possibility to make this documentary. Personally, I’m fascinated that a scientific documentary would receive the audiovisual industry award in Colombia. It’s a demonstration that this kind of content is very necessary and important, since it forms part of a country’s cultural identity. As was highlighted at the award ceremony: making audiovisual work about science… has its own science, and we feel that this award is an international recognition for the work that we’ve been doing for years to bring this type of content to a large audience.

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