Infancia Clandestina

By Eva Nivard

Film information

Director: Benjamin Ávila
Cast: Teo Gutiérrez Moreno, César Troncoso, Natalia Oreiro, Ernesto Alterio, Violeta Palukas, Cristina Banegas.
Release: Argentina, September 2011/ Netherlands, June 2013
Language: Spanish

In the year 1979, Juan, together with his parents, his baby sister Victoria and his uncle Beto return to Argentina. His parents and Beto are members of the Montoneros Organization, a left-wing Guerrilla movement that rebelled against the government. Although upon return Juan is only twelve years old, he already has to change his name to Ernesto and keeps a serious secret. He is told that if something happens, he must take his baby sister to a hiding place and stay there. In contrast to this, Juan is also a relatively normal schoolboy who goes on school trips, makes a lot friends and eventually falls in love with a girl. He is a young boy living two different lives and to him, his personal problems are just as important as all the dangers his family has to face.

Infancia Clandestina is a partly autobiographical movie by director Benjamín Ávila who experienced the Dirty War as a child himself. As a result of the Ávila being able to imagine and reproduce what Juan must be going through, this movie is personal, touching and realistic at the same time.

As the movie progresses, small incidents keep on happening and gradually, the tension starts to build. Since the movie is being portrayed from the perspective of a young child, it isn’t too grave and serious. Moreover, as a way of dealing with his fear, Juan pretends that his life is a story in a comic book. Thus, at moments of brute violence and real danger, Ávila switches to stylized cartoon. So if you’re interested in graphic novels, these cartoons of Andy Riva will definitely appeal to you.

Apart from the visuals and the storyline, I only have the remark that Ávila assumes that his audience already knows a lot about the Dirty War in Argentina. Nevertheless, the core idea of the film wasn’t to show the revolutionists’ ideology, but more about depicting all the dangers and fears of families that had joined the Guerrilla movement. All in all, I can only conclude that you should definitely see this intense and interesting film that had the most beautiful graphical illustrations I have ever seen.

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