Argentine cinema is one of the most advanced in Latin America, and has made great progress over the last couple of decades, delivering a number of internationally acclaimed movies. Throughout the years, filmmakers have been able to convey through their films the events of each era, and even innovate with some of their techniques and subjects. However, in spite of the quality of their productions, both Argentina and the rest of the Latin American countries tend to be an underrated powerhouse, and few films have made it beyond the region’s frontiers.
Fortunately, this has been slowly changing, and Argentina has been stepping into the spotlight at film festivals and other global institutions. In fact, seven of the country’s films have been nominated for Best International Feature Film at the Oscars, with two of them winning: La Historia Oficial (The Official Story) and El Secreto de sus Ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes), in 1986 and 2010 respectively. Thus, Argentina became one of the three Latin American countries to ever win an Oscar, and the only one to do so twice.
Last September, an Argentine film was released on Prime Video and is generating Oscar buzz with great chances of winning a third statuette for the country: Argentina, 1985, a historical drama film that follows the Trial of the Juntas, where they prosecuted the ringleaders of Argentina’s last civil-military dictatorship, one of the country’s darkest periods. Less than a month after its release, the film has become this year’s most-watched film in its native country, and, per Deadline, has been selected as Argentina’s entry to compete in the Best International Feature Film category at the upcoming Oscar Awards. Here’s why it’s a must-watch movie.
An Essential Film for Argentine History
Few Argentine films inspired in the audience what Argentina, 1985 has: theaters packed with moviegoers of all ages, moved to tears by recollections of the darkest period in the country’s history, and giving a standing ovation for justice to be served. Even though it is far from being a documentary, this fictional film based on real events is beautifully constructed, and it turned into a social, political, and economic phenomenon that continues to be talked about by everyone. Argentina, 1985 follows Julio César Strassera and Luis Moreno Ocampo, the prosecutors in charge of bringing to court the main perpetrators of the bloodiest military dictatorship in Argentina’s history, who committed practices such as kidnapping, torture, and forced disappearances of people. In a short amount of time, they must assemble a team and go through all the evidence in order to grant the accused commanders what they failed to grant to their victims: a fair trial.
Given the subject matter Argentina, 1985, it is no wonder that it has resonated so deeply in the Argentine society. But the phenomenon did not stop there: moviegoers from all over the world were touched by the events of Argentina’s darkest period, reconstructed through the different testimonies of survivors exposed during the Trial of the Juntas.
Ricardo Darín and Peter Lanzani: A Winning Pair
This production by Santiago Mitre, written by him alongside Mariano Llinás, has succeeded, objectively speaking, in many ways. But probably one of Argentina, 1985‘s best accomplishments has been casting the main actors, who are a perfect combination between established and growing talent. Julio César Strassera is portrayed by an emblematic figure of Argentine cinema: none other than Ricardo Darín. This outstanding actor is among the most renowned in the country, starring in El Secreto de sus Ojos, which won an Oscar in 2010, and in two other Oscar-nominated films, among many others. Luis Moreno Ocampo, meanwhile, was played by Peter Lanzani, an actor with a rising career, who has become one of Argentina’s most promising actors of recent years. This surprising pairing makes perfect sense, and elevates this production to the highest standards. Joining Darín and Lanzani in Argentina, 1985 are Alejandra Flechner, Laura Paredes, Carlos Portaluppi, Susana Pampín, Norman Briski, Hector Díaz and Alejo García Pintos, among other actors.
Fighting Against Movie Theaters
The phenomenon that Argentina, 1985 represented for the country becomes even more important if we take into consideration a significant fact: the country’s major cinema chains refused to distribute the film. This decision had much to do with the conditions imposed by Amazon Studios, who co-produced the film, limiting exhibition in local theaters. Amazon’s business model requires that the movie premiere theatrically and run for three weeks only, followed by its release on Prime Video. From then on, the film would remain available both in theaters and on the streaming platform. As big chains rejected these conditions, the movie was distributed by national and independent theaters. Surprisingly, this boycott had a positive and unexpected outcome: Argentina, 1985 had a much wider national reach than the rest of the films, and the audience’s demand led theaters to reinstate showtimes that had been discontinued years ago.
International Festivals and Oscar Buzz
Argentina, 1985‘s world premiere was quite remarkable: it had its first screening on September 3 at the 79th Venice International Film Festival, competing for the Golden Lion. At the festival, it won the FIPRESCI Award and a SIGNIS Award Special Mention. A few weeks later, the film was screened at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, winning the People’s Choice Award. Its Argentine premiere was on September 29, followed by a screening at the London Film Festival in October, where the production was nominated for Best Film. The future looks very bright for this film, as it has been selected as the Argentine entry for Best International Feature Film at the Oscars and Best Ibero-American Film at the Goya Awards. The entire nation is, indeed, eagerly awaiting the production to be selected among the official nominees. Until then, this hit’s producers believe that their main priority right now is working on distributing Argentina, 1985 so that it reaches as many people as possible in order to spread the word about the history of the country.