Status: 01/11/2023 08:30
Santiago Miter broke records in his home country with his legal thriller ‘Argentina, 1985’. The drama, starring Ricardo Darín, won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. It was shown at the Hamburg Film Festival in autumn 2022.
“Argentina, 1985” is Miter’s seventh feature film: a 140-minute political thriller with 65-year-old actor Ricardo Darín (“In Her Eyes”) can be seen on the Amazon streaming platform. 140 minutes full of suspense – taken from real events and partly filmed in the historical places of the events – and also of humour, which accompany the chief prosecutor Julio Strassera (Darín) as he sues the relatives of the Argentine military junta from 1976 to 1983.
“Argentina, 1985” – film hit and Oscar hopeful from Argentina
In the autumn “Argentina, 1985” – a co-production between Argentina and the United States – celebrated its world premiere in competition at the Venice Film Festival and then took part in festivals in Spain, England and Switzerland. In Argentina it was the biggest box office hit of the year, even though it was shown almost only in art house theaters. It was shown in selected cinemas in many South American countries, England and the United States.
Now it can be seen worldwide on Amazon and, with the popular actor Darín, has a good chance of winning the Oscar for best international film. He’s shortlisted for an Oscar in this category: “Of course, this gives us hope that more people will see it and learn more about the things the film is about,” said director Santiago Miter in an interview after the presentation of the film in Hamburg at NDR Cultura. He was at the Hamburg Film Festival for the second time to present his production. “I was here for the first time in 2011, with my first film ‘El estudiante’. I too come from a port city and I think the port city of Hamburg is very beautiful,” says Mitre.
Synopsis: Prosecutor Julio Strassera sues the Argentine military junta
Tens of thousands of men and women are estimated to have disappeared in Argentina during the seven-year dictatorship of Argentina’s then rulers, General Jorge Videla and Admiral Emilio Massera.
Prosecutor Julio Strassera and his young colleague Luis Moreno Ocampo must assemble a young team to collect evidence and testimony against the generals. Time works against them and some of them are under threat. “When we started preparing our film, we first had to evaluate how much Argentina still knew about the 1985 trial. What people remembered today. We found: very little. Even from today’s world of justice, it has received little response” , says director and screenwriter Santiago Mitra.
People remembered the outcome of the trial more than Strassera and “his call for justice, democracy and against violence as a method of resolving conflicts. So we knew we could hardly assume anything.” This part of the history of the judiciary, so important to today’s democracy in Argentina, is rarely covered in history lessons. “But with this movie, a lot of people are remembering what happened in 1985. It’s been so long since then.”
Santiago Mitre: “A unique case in the world”
This judicial case has many particularities: “It is a unique case in the world. It is the only time in which the democratic and civil institutions of a country have condemned a dictatorship”. There have been similar cases, “but with different signs, such as the Nuremberg trials. But there the victors of the war carried out the accusation”. Before 1985, no civil court had tried a dictatorship.
“He was fundamental to the establishment of the new democracy in Argentina. This trial put nine generals of the Argentine military dictatorship in the dock. Anyone who participated in the trial on the side of the prosecutor was threatened at that time.”
Strengthen the collective memory of society
Luckily, the trial could be done then, Miter says. This led to convictions: “To date there are further trials against around 1,000 military personnel and collaborators. This is important to remember. I hope this film also serves to strengthen collective memory. It is very important, so that companies do not fall in old patterns or old mistakes.”
The cinematic film is not only based on the exciting court scenes and follows the classic patterns of legal thrillers. There are the moving statements of the surviving victims and then, word for word, Strassera’s brilliant final speech as a prosecutor, filmed in what was then the courtroom in 1985. He also relies on the humorous dialogues of the Strassera family, who with his wife, son and teenage daughter joked. A comedy that, according to director Miter Strassera, also had.
Finally, he recounts how star Ricardo Darín was smoking on the street in Julio Strassera’s costume and make-up during filming when someone older approached him. This person has worked with the prosecutor for many years, Miter said. The contemporary witness told Darín in astonishment, “You look nothing like him. But you are just like him!”
Drawings: James Miter, Marian Llinas. Directors: Ricardo Darin, Peter Lanzani, Alexandra Flechner, Norman Briski
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