festivals & awards:
1985 is an important year in Argentina’s recent history. In April of that year, nine high-ranking representatives of the military dictatorship (1976 to 1983) were put on trial, on charges including unlawful detention, torture and murder. The verdicts were announced in December.
While Santiago Mitre created a feature film (Argentina 1985) out of the trial, Ulises de la Orden hews closely to the source material, crafting a nearly three-hour-long documentary – El juicio – out of video footage from the courtroom. After viewing more than 500 hours of material, the director condensed and structured it into this artful, spiralling montage. The more witnesses the film allows to have their say, the more irrefutable it becomes that the men in the dock are responsible for acts for which the term “state terror” is too mild, regardless of how unassailable they consider themselves to be. In the end, prosecutor Julio Strassera calls the trial a “descent” – to a place “where the misery, depravity and horror reach a depth that one couldn’t have imagined beforehand, and afterward can barely comprehend.” El juicio is a film upon which the power to imagine and to comprehend depends.