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Juan lives in clandestinity. Just like his mum, his dad and his adored uncle Beto, outside his home he has another name. At school, Juan is known as Ernesto. And he meets María, who only has one name. Based on true facts, set in the Argentina of 1979, this film is "one about love". Written by
For so many of us the governmental complexities that seem to occur with regularity in South America never seem to be clear. CLANDESTINE CHILDHOOD ('Infancia clandestine') offers the opportunity to not only be informed about the machinations of such movements, but also allows us entry into the personal view of the changes that political events impact so powerfully on the citizens.
Benjamín Ávila who wrote (with Marcelo Müller) and directed this brilliant little film is sharing his experiences of living through the times that his story relates. The year is 1979 and an Argentinean family who have been exiled in Cuba return to Argentina as Montoneros - a guerrilla group fighting against the military junta that controlled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. In a coup on March 24, 1976, a military junta seized power in Argentina and went on a campaign to wipe out left-wing terrorism with terror far worse than the one they were combating. Between 1976 and 1983 - under military rule - thousands of people, most of them dissidents and innocent civilians unconnected with terrorism, were arrested and then - los desaparecidos. The father Horacio (César Troncoso) and mother Cristina (the incredibly beautiful Uruguayan actress Natalia Oreiro), baby girl Vicki, and 12 year old son Juan are forced to change their names and hide from the authorities so that the guerrilla warfare can be accomplished. There is one other member of the family - Uncle Beto (Ernesto Alterio) - who seems to be the most solid tie between Juan (now called 'Ernesto') and his family's condition.
'Ernesto' enters school, discovers Maria (Violeta Palukas) and from there the story becomes more one of a blossoming love than a country under military control. But the fear and eventual capture of Ernesto's family brings an end to a precious little love story: Ernesto must leave with the remaining members of his family and go to live with his grandmother Amalia (Cristina Banegas). Juan/Ernesto's childhood has become a clandestine one.
The film is well acted and directed but most important it offers us a view of the conditions of living in Argentina during that dark cloud of Los Desaparecidos. It is a powerful yet very tender document about the effect of war on us all - but especially on children.
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