After winning the World Cup, Argentina is also hoping for an Oscar

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Less than three months after Argentina won its third World Cup soccer trophy in Qatar, excitement is building over the possibility that the country could take home another major prize – an Academy Award.

A win at Sunday’s ceremony for “Argentina, 1985,” was the country’s third win at the Oscars, a bit of symmetry for the country as it continues to enjoy its soccer triumph.

“Argentina, 1985” tells the story of the prosecutors who brought the leaders of Argentina’s bloody 1976-1983 military dictatorship to trial and is competing for best international film. It was a box office hit and an important reminder of how the country grappled with the crimes of a dictatorship claimed by thousands of people. And its awards season run has once again brought positive attention to Argentina.

“After winning the World Cup, this is a great joy,” the film’s star Ricardo Darín said in Spanish at the Golden Globe Awards in January, where she won the award for best film not in English.

Darín plays Julio César Strassera, the main prosecutor trying to bring the leaders of the dictatorship to justice.

In a recent interview, he said that although he was joking about the Globes, he recognizes that Argentina felt “a lot of joy” when the film was nominated for an Oscar.

“Considering that we are still in the dynamics of the World Cup and the need to celebrate, it increases the euphoria of the celebration even more,” he said.

One of those joining in that euphoria is Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi, captain of the World Cup-winning team, who called “Argentina, 1985” a “great movie” in a social media post last month, before adding: in third place.”

Director Santiago Miter says that although the Oscars and the World Cup are not related, the two events have succeeded in uniting an usually polarized society around the success of their films.

“There is a desire for reconciliation,” said Miter in an interview at his residence in the capital of Argentina, “To reconcile before this forced separation that has been happening for many years, from politics and the media.”

There is also a hunger for any piece of good news in a country with a bitter political scene. The country has been stuck in an economic slump for years, with nearly four in 10 living in poverty and the annual inflation rate at nearly 100%.

People flocked outside movie theaters to watch “Argentina, 1985” during its main theatrical release. It’s now available on Amazon Prime Video and faces stiff competition from another international streaming release, Netflix’s “All Quiet on the Western Front.” The German film is considered the pioneer in the category, which also includes “Eo,” Belgium’s “Close” and “The Quiet Girl” from Poland.

Argentina’s last military dictatorship is widely considered to be the deadliest military rule to affect much of Latin America in the 1970s and ’80s. Human rights organizations say around 30,000 people have been detained illegally and disappeared without a trace.

Because Argentina put its dictators on trial so soon after the return of democracy in 1983, the country is an outlier among many others that also transitioned to democratic rule during the period.

Almost 800 witnesses gave evidence during the four months of hearings. Some of their words are used verbatim in the film to reveal the horrors of the dictatorship.

For many, the film was the first time they had ever heard some of the harrowing testimonies, including from Adriana Calvo, who detailed how she was illegally detained when she was seven months pregnant and sent forced to make a decision while handcuffed in the back seat of a patrol car. car.

“I feel very sad when I see a 17-year-old child who plays down or compares the country’s democratic moments … to a moment of dictatorship,” Miter said. “And what does that tell you? That they don’t know or have forgotten what happened during the dictatorship and the cruelty of the dictatorship and how difficult it was for the society to build a democracy.”

The trial ended with life convictions for two key dictatorial figures, three others were sentenced to a year in prison and four were acquitted. Amnesty laws later overturned convictions and suspended justice for most of the dictatorship’s crimes until the Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional in 2005.

The younger generations questioning the importance of democracy extends beyond Argentina and Latin America, said Luis Moreno Ocampo, the assistant prosecutor in the 1985 trial played by Peter Lanzani in the film.

The case in point, said Moreno Ocampo, was the attack on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 by supporters of the then President, Donald Trump, and, more recently, the storming of the Brazilian Congress by support of the former President of the country on January 8, 2023. President Jair Bolsonaro.

“That shows the importance of making the film now, at a time when this new generation believes that democracy is normal and sees its flaws,” Moreno Ocampo, who went on to become the first prosecutor in the International Criminal Court for almost ten years and now. lives in Malibu, California, said. “And the film shows that the alternative to democracy is dictatorship.”

One of the crucial scenes in the film is Moreno Ocampo’s mother, a dictator sympathizer who came from a military family and was very suspicious of the 1985 trial until she hears Calvo’s testimony and changes her mind. For the former prosecutor, that is a key message for the present.

“We live in an echo chamber world, we don’t talk to those who think differently from us. I think we need to understand what happened in Brazil on January 8, what happened to the people who went on January 6 to the Capitol. Why do those people do what they do?” Moreno Ocampo said. “The only way to live in a democracy is to understand those who think differently. Democracy is not about living with friends.”

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