Reviewed by: Val Kermode

This is a striking short film which employs a mix of animation techniques to tell a heart rending story . A woman sits knitting. We never see her face. She talks about the daughter she loves and about her happiness as she awaits a grandchild. The nursery fills with toys. Then the door opens and two toy police cars arrive. This was the last time the daughter, Maria Marta, was ever seen. Eight months pregnant, she was taken away by the police and disappeared. This was Argentina under the military dictatorship.

It's a story which has been told many times now. But this short film finds a fresh way to tell it. The grandmother begins in Spanish, then we hear the words spoken in English by the actor Geraldine McEwan. It could have been done with subtitles, but this is such a beautiful visual film that the spoken words are a better choice.

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The grandmother met other women who had lost their daughters. Together they searched everywhere, not knowing whether their children were still alive They learned that all the women taken to concentration camps had their babies taken away from them. Then the women were killed. Paper bodies drop from a paper plane. Family photos framed on the wall begin to lose some members. Young men, women and children are scratched out, leaving black holes. Maria Marta's baby was taken by an interrogator and brought up as his own child. It was not until the year 2000 that, thanks to DNA testing, the grandmother was able to discover this and was finally reunited with her granddaughter.

The contrast between the simple everyday objects used to tell the story and the deeply sad words we hear creates a film which makes you hold your breath.

Reviewed on: 11 Jun 2011
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Abuelas packshot
An elderly woman talks about the disappearance of her pregnant daughter under military rule in Argentina.
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Director: Afarin Eghbal

Year: 2011

Runtime: 9 minutes

Country: UK


Doc/Fest 2011

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