At the Venice Film Festival, a look back at the historic trial against the Argentine junta

The historic 1985 trial against the military junta in power in Argentina from 1976 to 1983 is at the heart of “Argentina, 1985”, which was highly acclaimed on Saturday at the Venice International Film Festival (Italy), where it competes for the Lion of gold.

For his fifth feature film, Argentine filmmaker Santiago Miter returned to this dark period in the history of his country by following in the footsteps of the prosecutor in charge of the prosecution, Julio Strassera, played by Ricardo Darin, and his assistant Luis Moreno Ocampo (Peter Lanzani).

“I still remember the day when Strassera read his indictment: the uproar in the court, the emotion of my parents, the streets finally able to celebrate something that was not a football match, the idea of justice as an act of healing”, explained Santiago Mitre, winner in 2015 of the Critics’ Week grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival (France) with “Paulina”.

(from left to right) Argentinian actress Alejandra Flechner, Argentinian actor Ricardo Darin, Argentinian director Santiago Miter and Argentinian actor Peter Lanzani, at the Venice Film Festival (Italy), September 3, 2022 (AFP – Tiziana FABI)

Most of the film does not take place in the courtroom but focuses on the genesis of the trial and the obstacles encountered by the investigators, faced with threats against themselves and their loved ones.

“This story touched me deeply and made me want to make a film about justice (…) based on facts that really happened,” said the filmmaker.

Humor and self-mockery are never far away in this opus which is careful not to make heroes of its protagonists, while the majority of the country remained passive under the dictatorship. “Heroes do not exist”, slice the prosecutor Strassera in front of his wife.

The testimonies of the victims recounting the horrors suffered, in particular that of a woman forced to give birth handcuffed aboard the car of her torturers, are heartbreaking.

Argentinian director Santiago poses for a photo shoot of the film “Argentina, 1985”, presented at the Venice Film Festival (Italy), September 3, 2022 (AFP – Tiziana FABI)

According to human rights organizations, some 30,000 people disappeared under the Argentine dictatorship. 400 babies born in captivity have been illegally handed over to other people, according to the Grandmothers of May Square organization, which fights for the missing.

Since the dictatorship’s trials resumed in the mid-2000s – after more than a decade of controversial amnesty measures and laws – some 1,060 people have been convicted of crimes against humanity.

Argentinian justice again sentenced 10 former soldiers and police officers to life imprisonment in early July for homicides, kidnappings, torture and rape.

The article is in French

Tags: Venice Film Festival historic trial Argentine junta

NEXT Friends For Life | The Journal of Quebec