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Argentine drama wins Guadalajara’s top film prize

March 13, 2013

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“Clandestine Childhood,” a tale of lost innocence set during the Argentinian dictatorship of the 1970s, won the top prize for Iberoamerican fiction at Guadalajara’s 28th International Film Festival (FICG), which closed on Saturday.

Benjamin Avila’s debut feature beat competition from 18 other titles to claim the cash prize of 20,000 dollars, as well as winning the best actor award for Ernesto Alterio. It tells the tale of the son of political activists who return to Argentina after years in exile to join the insurgency against the military junta that ruled the country.

The movie, which has yet to be released in Mexico, was Argentina’s entry for best foreign language film at the Oscars, although it did not make the final shortlist.

“I want to dedicate the award to all the Argentines based in Mexico, and to the Mexican society, which hosted thousands of Argentines during the toughest and bloodiest moments of Argentine society,” Avila said upon receiving the prize in Guadalajara.

The film is a semi-autobiographical work based on Avila’s experiences growing up under a false identity during the “Dirty War” from 1976 to 1983, during which an estimated 13,000 to 30,000 people were killed or disappeared. These included Avila’s baby brother, who went missing for over four years, and his mother, who was affiliated with the leftist Montonero guerrilla movement, and was killed by the military.

The FICG’s Mezcal Prize for best Mexican film went to Jose Luis Valle’s “Workers,” a critical take on the situation of Mexican migrant workers in the United States. The special jury prize went to Brazilian environmental film “Xingu,” directed by Cao Hamburger, while the best first film prize went to “Tanta Agua,” a co-production from Uruguay, Mexico and Holland.

Argentine Dario Nardi won best director for his debut “Las mariposas de Sadourni,” while best screenplay went to Spain’s Valenti Figueres for his film “El efecto K.”

The FICG also paid tribute to Swedish director Jan Troell who received the International Golden Mayahuel for a distinguished career that has included films such as “The Emigrants” and “The New Land.” Troell headed a large delegation from this year’s special guests, the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

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