Co-written and directed by filmmaker Santiago Mitre, the Amazon Studios pic Argentina, 1985 is the tale of Argentinian lawyers Julio Strassera and Luis Moreno Ocampo, who bravely prosecuted members of the country’s former bloody military dictatorship. Under the regime, from 1976 to 1983, an estimated 30,000 people disappeared.
“This was a fundamental time during the democratic reconstruction in Argentina,” Mitre said during Deadline’s Contenders Film: International awards-season panel. “This took place after the bloody dictatorship. It took a lot of courage, especially from the President back then. Democracy had only been established for one year, so it was very fragile.”
The thriller debuted in Competition at the Venice Film Festival, where it picked up the Fipresci prize, and it has been selected as Argentina’s entry for the international Oscar race.
Ricardo Darín stars as Strassera and Peter Lanzani is Ocampo. During the panel, Darín, who is Argentinian, told Deadline that his performance was inspired by his “admiration” for the real-life people portrayed in the film.
“There was not really a personal history that influenced me in creating this character but what really influenced me was the environment and the feelings,” he said. “The feelings of those who people suffered during those times. And the admiration I have for the courage of these people.”
Despite retelling a brutal and violent period of Argentina’s history, the Amazon Studios pic is anchored by several moments of laugh-out-loud comedy. Darín told Deadline that these moments were never “pressed or forced upon” the actors but rather were created organically.
“Santiago created this free space to create those moments that came naturally,” he said. “This was important because we were able to tell a story that was hard to tell in a more human way.”
Check out the panel video above.