Jeffrey’s Cinema #22
Jeffrey’s Cinema! This time with:
The official story (1985)
(La historia oficial)
Directed by Luis Puenzo
In Spanish with English and Dutch subtitles
This is one of the blazing gems of Latin American cinema, a part of the world that is too often eclipsed. It is a heartbreaking story based on real events during the 70s and early 80s in Argentina. What events actually? Well, imagine you were raised in a wealthy right-wing militaristic family and then you discover your parents were not your parents, and that your real parents were left-wing activists who were imprisoned, and that your mother died in prison under torture, by the very regiem your family supports. This was what happened under the American-backed dictatorship in Argentina, where babies were torn away from their mothers and given to supporters of the regime to raise.
This widespread situation haunted an entire younger generation once it was found out this is what had happened. This movie focuses on a female protagonist, a school teacher married to a businessman with military ties, who begins to question where her adopted child came from. Was the mother of the child one of the thousands of “desaparecidos” (disappeared ones)?
This flick unearths some pretty uncomfortable questions about what happened in Argentina’s Guerra sucia (Dirty War) when a military dictatorship was put in place by the American CIA, under the name of ‘Operation Condor’, leading to a situation that has been called “state terrorism”. And let’s be clear… when this movie was made this wasn’t an easy topic to bring up. There were still many people in power who didn’t want these questions raised – in fact there were death-threats sent to the director and actors. With their lives at stake, the filmmakers then publicly announced the film was cancelled, but actually continued shooting the film in secret.
Devastating, and pretty damn heartbreaking – and once again, based on a real-life situation.