Sunday, August 19, 2012

48. The Night of the Pencils (1986)

La Noche de los Lapices

During the Argentine 'Dirty War' from 1976-1983 the military forces carried out a systematic campaign against certain parts of the civilian population.  As a part of this systematic attack, on the 16 September, 1976, ten students aged between 16 and 17 years old were kidnapped in La Plata.  This event is known as the 'night of the pencils'.  The the students were tortured, raped and subsequently 'disappeared' comprising the estimated 30,000 persons disappeared by the military.  

Hector Olivera's 1986 film is based on the testimony of Pablo Diaz, one of the two student survivors.  In 1985 Diaz gave his testimony during the Trial of the Junta in Buenos Aires.  This trial prosecuted those most responsible for crimes committed by the Junta (including Videla recently prosecuted and convicted of crimes against humanity).  Diaz's testimony was then turned into a book, which formed the basis of the movie. 

The movie tells the story of Diaz and three other students held in illegal detention centres by the military.  The film graphically depicts their plight (including the rape as torture of one of the female students).  An important movie which forms part of the collective memory of the Dirty War in Argentina.  Recommended. 

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