Films: Clandestine Childhood

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Clandestine Childhood  {Infancia clandestina}

Clandestine Childhood
Infancia clandestina

Argentina, 2011, 112 Minute Running Time
Additional Countries: Spain, Brazil
Genre/Subjects: Coming of Age, Drama, Family Issues, Historical/Period
Program: Focus on Nation Cinema: Argentina
Language: Spanish English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Benjamin Ávila
Producer: Luis Puenzo, Benjamin Ávila
Screenwriter: Marcelo Müller, Benjamin Ávila
Cinematographer: Iván Gierasinchuk
Principal Cast: Natalia Oreiro, Ernesto Alterio, César Troncoso, Benjamín Ávila, Cristina Banegas

Director Benjamin Ávila’s debut is based on his experience growing up under Argentina’s military dictatorship in the 1970s. Juan spends his childhood moving from place to place after his parents, along with thousands of other communists, flee Argentina following President Juan Perón’s death. Five years later, the boy and his family return to Buenos Aires, where his parents intend to continue fighting the junta. Juan must assimilate without drawing attention to the family.

Under the assumed name “Ernesto,” Juan enrolls in the local public school. His parents, devout Montoneros, continue anti-government warfare under the guise of a chocolate-peanut business. During the day Juan tries to be like his classmates, but his education at home is anything but typical—he is taught how to load a gun and where to hide if the house comes under attack. The guerrilla tactics effectively rob him of what’s left of his childhood. Juan just wants a normal life, and as his own sexuality begins to dawn, he finds puppy love with his classmate María. Parallel to the story of their budding relationship is the destruction of Juan’s family and his acutely developed political awareness.

In the final scene—using Andy Riva’s stylized animation—Juan’s mother (played by superstar Natalia Oreiero) is shown the way he remembers her: at times tender and loving, at others fierce and raging. Like so many stories from Argentina’s dark past, Clandestine Childhoon is a vision of a life gone awry pieced together from distant memories.


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