Since it’s still winter and there’s a holiday weekend coming up I thought you might have some screen time. So here’s a selection of films centering on Argentina and Chile during their authoritarian periods. The listing is in no particular order.
A recent film about Argentina’s disappeared titled Argentina, 1985 is available for free to those of you who have an Amazon Prime subscription. According to Amazon
the film is inspired by the true story of Julio Strassera, Luis Moreno Ocampo and their young legal team of unlikely heroes in their David-vs-Goliath battle to prosecute Argentina’s bloodiest military dictatorship to bring justice to the victims of the Military Junta.
The movie won the Golden Globe® in 2023 for foreign language film and is now an Academy Award® nominee for Best International Feature Film.
There’s a similar film about Chile titled The Junta and the General which I’ll describe later.
The Official Story (La Historia Oficial) – 1985
You can stream The Official Story on HBO Max if you’re a subscriber, or you can buy or rent on YouTube or rent on Apple TV. Released only two years after the end of the Dirty War, the film follows Alicia, a teacher and the wife of a wealthy businessman. Her life changes when she discovers that her daughter, Gaby, adopted at birth, may have been stolen from a family of “los desaparecidos” (the disappeared). Searching for Gaby’s parents, Alicia investigates the 1970s campaign of torture and murder by Argentina’s military dictatorship.
Our Disappeared/Nuestros Desaparecidos – 2008
You can watch Our Disappeared/Nuestros Desaparecidos on Vimeo, just click here. The filmmaker, Juan Mandelbaum, starts out on a search for Patricia, a college sweetheart, and ends up telling the story of an estimated 30,000 Argentine citizens known as los desaparecidos, “the disappeared.” The film has won multiple awards including the 2009 Chicago Latino Film Festival-Documentary Audience Award.
Los Rubios (The Blondes) – 2003
Like The Official Story, Los Rubios follows a woman searching for the truth, this time about her parents. But any commonalities with The Official Story end with its focus on “the disappeared” and Argentina’s Dirty War.
According to Yidio’s streaming guide, this movie is based on real political events occurring in Argentina after Jorge Rafael Videla assumed power in March 1976. It is the story of a child, Albertina Carri whose parents were murdered along with thousands of others during the Dirty War. Albertina returns years later to the house she had lived in with her parents to interview those who knew her parents and what happened to them. An elderly woman remembers that all of Albertina’s family had blond hair and this had something to do with their disappearance. She will try to find out who they were, and whether blond hair was a factor in any of the events.
The Battle for Chile (La Batalla de Chile) Parts 1(1975), 2 (1976), and 3 (1979)
All three parts of The Battle for Chile were available on YouTube the last time I checked. They include The Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie, The Coup D’Etat, and Popular Power. Filmed by Patricio Guzman in Spanish with English subtitles, the movies chronicle the political tension in Chile in 1973 and the violent counter revolution against the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende.
‘The Battle’ won the Grand Prix in 1975 and 1976 at the Grenoble International Film Festival.
In 1996, Chile, Obstinate Memory was released. This film follows Guzmán back to Chile as he screens the 3-part documentary to Chileans who have never seen it before. Currently you can stream the 1996 film here for free.
The Judge and the General – 2008
The Judge and the General is available on YouTube. Some of you may find it very uncomfortable viewing.
The film documents the work of the Chilean judge, Juan Guzman, who investigated Pinochet. Guzman supported Pinochet’s 1973 coup, but in the end held the dictator accountable. One result: in May 2000 an appeals court stripped Pinochet of his immunity as a former president and senator. Before his death he faced more than 100 separate charges of ordering tortures and disappearances.
If you’d like more information about Chile and Argentina during the Cold War be sure to check out the following posts:
For more on Latin America: