Alexy Budovsky is a great Russian animator and a good friend, and he stopped by my studio a few months ago to give me an update on his life and travels. It seems he's now married to a Colombian woman and living in Bogota.
I asked him how life was there, and he said it's fantastic! The weather's perfect and they have all different types of landscape - desert, rainforest, beautiful plains, snow-peaked mountains, and beaches that are to die for - well, that sold me.
So when I recently got invited to a festival in Santa Fe de la Antioquia, Colombia, I said, "Sign me up!" The festival is small but it's been around for 15 years, and Santa Fe is also small, but very quaint. It's an old, colonial city with charming cobblestones and horses and weird scooter-taxis in the streets.
The Festicine Antioquia opened with a screening of "Cheatin'" in the town center. Apparently they neglected to check the film for adult material first, so all the kids in the audience got a great education on human anatomy.
But the screening started late, because a few of the dignitaries were still preparing for the event. So instead of waiting for them to show up, I introduced the film one hour before the delayed screening started. (I'd been up since 4 am and I was dead tired.)
It seems that in Colombia, people don't put much meaning to what the clock says - and that was a theme throughout my stay. My master class the next day was well-attended, but again, it started late.
They put me up in a fabulous colonial hotel with a beautiful tropical pool, where I swam to the sounds of Bing Crosby's "White Christmas". Weird.
Unfortunately for me, it's a big party town, and every night is like Mardi Gras - so I had a big problem catching up on my sleep.
On my trip back to the airport, I had time to stop off in Medellin, to visit the Museum de Antioquia. Since the great painter Fernando Botero grew up there, they are the repository of a large collection of his work - pencil art, sketches, sculptures, and of course his fantastic paintings.
I've been a big fan of Botero's work since college, and I was surprised to learn that he's still alive, and painting in Italy. I think he fled Colombia when Pablo Escobar sort of took over the country. In fact, there's a wonderful painting of the death of the infamous drug lord included in the show.
Medellin once had a reputation for being a lawless city of 3 million, but since the death of Escobar, it's become much safer - though still a little rough around the edges. They said I shouldn't walk around alone because I looked like such a "gringo".
Anyway, I give the festival an "A" because I had such a great time, despite the late starting times.