Film Review | Infancia Clandestina by Benjamín Ávila

Clandestine Childhood DVD cover

Take a step back in time to 1979 and hop a bit south to Argentina. Clandestine Childhood, directed by Benjamín Ávila, tells the story of one family’s struggle against the Military Junta that has taken place after the death of Juan Perón. The film opens with an attack on the family when Juan (protagonist) is a small boy. Forced into exile in Cuba, the family returns to Argentina under false identities to resume their lives several years later. Juan is torn between two worlds, that of his activist parents and the one where he is just another schoolboy with a crush on a girl. The reintroduction into Argentina and day-to-day family life are the focus of the film.

The film succeeds especially as a coming of age story. The viewer understands Juan’s yearning to be a normal worry-free kid and his inability to really talk to anyone about it. The acting is pretty solid and there are some well done shots. By using animation for the violent scenes, Ávila makes this film less graphic and palatable for a much wider audience. My one hang up is that I was looking for more of a window into the time period and ideas of what the Junta meant for people in Argentina at the time. Since Ávila sticks to just this one family and focuses so much on the kid it came out more of just a tough growing up story. That said, it is a cohesive narrative that can be appreciated for the story it tells. View the trailer or check if a library near you has this film.

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About amy de simone
Amy is an active volunteer, traveler and photographer. She is interested in art, libraries, museums and nonprofits. She holds an M.A. in Library & Information Studies and a B.A. in Italian Language & Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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