The Official Story

The Official Story

Infobox Film
name = The Official Story

caption = DVD cover
director = Luis Puenzo Jaoquin Calatayud
producer = Marcelo Piñeyro
writer = Aída Bortnik Luis Puenzo
starring = Héctor Alterio Norma Aleandro Chunchuna Villafañe
music = Atilio Stampone Song: María Elena Walsh
cinematography = Félix Monti
editing = Juan Carlos Macías
distributor = Almi Pictures Koch Lorber Films
Production Company: Historias Cinematograficas
released = Argentina: April 3, 1985 Canada: September 13, 1985 United States: November 8, 1985
runtime = 112 minutes
country = Argentina
language = Spanish
budget =
imdb_id = 0089276
amg_id = 1:36036

"The Official Story" (Spanish: " _es. La historia oficial") (1985) is a Argentine drama film directed by Luis Puenzo and Jaoquin Calatayud and written by Puenzo and Aída Bortnik. It has also been released as "The Official Version" in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. [ [ Channel 4] film review.] [ [ "Time Out London"] . "Time Out Film Guide 13," 2007.]

The film features Norma Aleandro, Héctor Alterio, Brett Barocas among others.

The film is about a couple in Buenos Aires with an adopted child. The mother comes to realize that her daughter may be the child of a "desaparecido," that is, a victim of the disappearances that occurred during Argentina's Dirty War in the 1970s.


This story, based on real events that took place in Argentina, looks at a married couple torn apart by the campaign of killings and torture that sent thousands of accused political leftists to unmarked graves in the mid 1970s known as the Dirty War.

The story begins after Alicia (Norma Aleandro), a high school teacher and, Roberto (Héctor Alterio), a wealthy businessman, adopt a little girl named Gaby (Analia Castro). After five years have passed Alicia wonders about the parents of Gaby, a topic her husband has told her to forget as it was a condition of the adoption. Yet, he knows the ugly story of his daughter's adoption.

While hard to believe, Alicia, and others in Argentina, are not aware of how much killing and suffering has gone on in the country until the students that she teaches begin to complain that the "government approved" history books they read were written by government "assassins."

At this time she also has a long conversation with Ana (Chunchuna Villafañe), an old friend, who had been in exile in Europe for seven years after she was tortured by paramilitary forces loyal to the brutal Argentine government for having lived with a so-called subversive. Alicia begins to do some serious political and personal research on her own.

Alicia learns the identity of Gaby's grandmother, Sara, (Chela Ruiz), who reveals the identity of the girl's dead parents. She finds out that her husband had a hand in the government's nasty repression and has intensive dealings with foreign business interests. At a family dinner Roberto Ibáñez has an intense political argument with his elderly father and brother where he espouses the political view-point of the conservative military ruling elite, and his father and brother argue from the side of social justice.

The film suggests that the old woman may not actually be Gaby's grandmother, and briefly explores the fact that Gaby's true family may never be known. This juxtaposition of fact and emotion are meant to evoke the mood of hope and hopelessness in reaction to a war environment.

The story ends tragically when Alicia confronts her husband. He wants her to forget about the past and look to the future. He becomes enraged and repeatedly slams her head into the wall. Alicia gets her keys to go get Gaby, and we are left to wonder if she will return to her marriage or take Gaby and live alone.


The film is based on the real political events that took place in Argentina after Jorge Rafael Videla's reactionary military "junta" assumed power in March 24, 1976. During the "junta's" rule, the parliament was suspended; unions, political parties and provincial governments were banned; and, in what became known as the Dirty War, between 9,000 and 30,000 people deemed left-wing "subversives" disappeared from society. [ [ The Vanished Gallery] .]

Like many progressive actors and others in the country, the lead actress in the film, Norma Aleandro, was forced into exile during this time. She traveled to Uruguay first and Spain later. She returned after the fall of the military government in 1983. [Curran, Daniel. "Cinebooks: Foreign Films," McPherson's Publishing: 1989, page 132.] Aleandro once said, "Alicia's personal search is also my nation's search for the truth about our history. The film is positive in the way it demonstrates that she can change her life despite all she is losing." [ [ Blommers, Thomas J] . "Social and Cultural Circularity in " _es. La historia oficial," California State University-Bakersfield.]

The "Official Story" can be considered alongside a group of other films that were the first to be made in Argentina after the downfall in 1983 of the last Argentine dictator, General Galtieri, and his autocratic regime. These films deal frankly with the repression, the torture, and the disappearances during Argentina's Dirty War in the 1970s and early 1980s; they include "Funny Little Dirty War" (1983) and "Night of the Pencils" (1986). A second group of films, which includes "Verónico Cruz" (1988) uses metaphor and hints at wider socio-political issues. [ [ "Cinergía"] movie file by Cristina Molano-Wendt, Amy Bianchi, Shannon Tierny, and Brian Sabella. For educational purposes. ] [ [ "new internationalist"] . Issue 192, February 1989.]


At first, director Puenzo, fearing for his safety, intended to shoot the film in secret, using hidden 16mm cameras. But the "junta" government fell right about the time the screenplay was completed. [Curran, Daniel. Ibid, page 133.]

The film was entirely shot in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, including the Plaza de Mayo where the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo congregated in the late 1970s with signs and pictures of "desaparecidos" who were subjected to forced disappearance by the Argentine military in the Dirty War.


* Héctor Alterio as Roberto Ibáñez
* Norma Aleandro as Alicia Marnet de Ibáñez
* Chunchuna Villafañe as Ana
* Hugo Arana as Enrique
* Guillermo Battaglia as José
* Chela Ruiz as Sara
* Patricio Contreras as Benítez
* María Luisa Robledo as Nata
* Aníbal Morixe as Miller
* Jorge Petraglia as Macci
* Analía Castro as Gaby
* Daniel Lago as Dante
* Augusto Larreta as General

Critical reception

The film won many awards when first released and, as such, the drama was widely well received in the 1980s. Walter Goodman, film critic for "The New York Times," believes the film was well balanced, and wrote, "Mr. Puenzo's film is unwaveringly committed to human rights, yet it imposes no ideology or doctrine. The further miracle is that this is the 39-year-old director's first feature film." [ [ Goodman, Walter] . "The New York Times," "Argentine Love and Lost", November 8, 1985.]

Critic Roger Ebert lauded the film in his film review, writing, "The Official Story" is part polemic, part thriller, part tragedy. It belongs on the list with films like "Z", "Missing" and "El Norte," which examine the human aspects of political unrest. It is a movie that asks some very hard questions...Alicia is played in the movie by Norma Aleandro, whose performance won the best actress award at this year's Cannes Film Festival. It is a performance that will be hard to forget, particularly since so much of it is internal. Some of the key moments in the film come as we watch Aleandro and realize what must be taking place inside her mind, and inside her conscience. Most political films play outside the countries that they are about; "The Official Story" is now actually playing in Argentina, where it must be almost unbearably painful for some of the members of its audiences. It was almost as painful for me." [ [ Ebert, Roger] . "Chicago Sun-Times," film review, November 11, 1985. Last accessed: January 8, 2008.]

Film critics Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, of the website "Spirituality and Practice," were painfully touched by the story they viewed. They write, "The Official Story" is a wrenching and painful drama that crystallizes the horror and the obscenity of political activities that annihilate family solidarity in the name of ideology..."The Official Story" packs a shattering visceral punch." [ [ Brussat, Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat] . "Spirituality and Practice," film review. Last accessed: January 8, 2008.]

Critic Ken Hanke of the North Carolina "Mountain Xpress" finds fault with the story, which he felt at times played out like a soap opera, but argues that it is still close to being a textbook example of how to use a personal story to tell and illuminate a much larger view. He believes that Alicia's political awakening is what gives the film "its strength and its resonance." [ [ Hanke, Ken] . North Carolina "Mountain Xpress," film review.]

A few critics were dismissive of the story Puenzo tells. For example, "The Chicago Reader"'s Dave Kehr thought "Puenzo's methods are so crudely manipulative...that the film quickly uses up the credit of its good intentions." [ [ Kehr, Dave] . "The Chicago Reader," film review.]

Currently, the film has a 100% "Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on nine reviews. [ [ "The Official Story"] at Rotten Tomatoes. Last accessed: January 8, 2008.]


"The Official Story" first opened in Argentina on April 3, 1985. It has also been featured at various film festivals including the Toronto Film Festival, the Berlin International Film Festival, the Cannes Film Festival, and the Mar del Plata Film Festival.


* Academy Awards: Oscar; Best Foreign Film; 1985.
* Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards: LAFCA Award Best Foreign Film; (tied with "Ran"); 1985.
* New York Film Critics Circle Awards: NYFCC Award Best Actress; Norma Aleandro; 1985.
* Toronto International Film Festival: People's Choice Award, Luis Puenzo, 1985.
* Premios ACE: Premio ACE Cinema; Best Actress, Norma Aleandro; Cinema - Best Director, Luis Puenzo; Cinema - Best Film; 1986.
* Golden Globes: Best Foreign Language Film; 1986.
* Argentinian Film Critics Association Awards: Silver Condor; Best Actress, Norma Aleandro; Best Cinematography, Félix Monti; Best Director, Luis Puenzo; Best Editing, Juan Carlos Macías; Best Film; Best New Actress, Analía Castro; Best Oiginal Screenplay, Aída Bortnik and Luis Puenzo; Best Supporting Actor, Patricio Contreras; Best Supporting Actress, Chela Ruíz; 1986.
* Berlin International Film Festival: Interfilm Award, Otto Dibelius Film Award, Luis Puenzo, (tied with "Un Complicato intrigo di donne, vicoli e delitti"); 1986.
* Cannes Film Festival: Best Actress, Norma Aleandro; Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, Luis Puenzo; 1986.
* Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards: KCFCC Award Best Foreign Film; 1986.
* David di Donatello Awards: David Best Foreign Actress, Norma Aleandro; 1987.

* Academy Awards: Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen; 1985.
* Cannes Film Festival: Golden Palm, Luis Puenzo; 1985.
* Sant Jordi Awards: Sant Jordi Award; Best Foreign Actress, Norma Aleandro; 1987.

ee also

* Maria Eugenia Sampallo



External links

* [ "La historia oficial"] at the sp icon
* [ "La historia oficial"] 20th Anniversary in Argentina sp icon

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title=Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
before="Dangerous Moves"
after="The Assault"
succession box
title=Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film
before="A Passage to India"
after="The Assault"

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