- Night of the Pencils (film)
Night of the Pencils
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Héctor Olivera Produced by Fernando Ayala
Written by Screenplay:
Héctor Ruiz Núñez
Starring Alejo García Pintos
Music by José Luis Castiñeira de Dios Cinematography Leonardo Rodríguez Solís Editing by Miguel López Distributed by Aries Cinematográfica Release date(s) Argentina:
September 4, 1986
March 14, 1987
Running time 105 minutes Country Argentina Language Spanish
Night of the Pencils (Spanish: La noche de los lápices) (1986) is an Argentine drama film directed by Héctor Olivera and written by Olivera and Daniel Kon. It is based on the non-fiction book by María Seoane and Héctor Ruiz Núñez.
This motion picture, based on the actual events recorded in history as Night of the pencils (La noche de los lápices), tells the story of seven teenagers, five boys and two girls, who, during a time of economic and political unrest in Argentina in the mid-1970s, protest for lower bus fares in La Plata.
The event takes place as Argentina's notorious Dirty War begins.
The students want reduced student bus fares, so they take to the streets and protest in support of the boleto estudiantil, or the students' ticket. At first, under Isabel Martínez de Perón's government they succeed, but their protests draw hostile attention from the military regime, led by Emilio Eduardo Massera, that overthrows Peron in 1976. The "leftist agitators" are not tolerated by the new government.
The film demonstrates the ensuing hostile and violent crackdown on student gatherings when police break up a school dance brandishing pistols.
Later, six students are kidnapped in the middle of the night, and the police claim ignorance about their whereabouts. This is the actual event, Night of the Pencils.
Pablo (Alejo García Pintos), a seventh member of the group, is later arrested by the police. He learns that his friends have been brutally tortured by governmental authorities and that he will receive the same treatment. The police give him electric shocks while radio music masks his cries.
He was fortunate to survive and tell their horrific story. His classmates were never found and became part of the thousands of desaparecido, students who were kidnapped and never seen again by their families or friends.
- Alejo García Pintos as Pablo Díaz
- Vita Escardó as Claudia Falcone
- Leonardo Sbaraglia as Daniel
- José María Monje as Panchito
- Pablo Machado as Claudio
- Adriana Salonia as María Clara
- Tina Serrano as Mrs. Falcone
- Héctor Bidonde as Mr. Falcone
- Alfonso De Grazia as priest impersonator
- Lorenzo Quinteros as Raúl
Basis of film
The motion picture was based on the non-fiction book, La noche de los lápices, written by María Seoane and Héctor Ruiz Núñez. The book profiles seven high school student activists from La Plata, Argentina, including lone survivor Pablo Díaz, who gives the authors his testimony. The students were kidnapped by the government after protesting for cheaper bus fare.
Pablo Díaz was incarcerated for four years. The other six students became a part of the 236 Argentine teenagers who were kidnapped and disappeared during the military dictatorship.
The film was shot entirely in the city of La Plata.
Night of the Pencils first opened in Argentina on September 4, 1986. It has been featured at various film festivals including: the New York New Directors/New Films Festival, the Moscow Film Festival, where it was nominated for the "Golden Prize," and the Toronto Film Festival.
In March 2003 the film was included in a slate of films shown at the 1st International Film Festival on Human Rights, held in Geneva, Switzerland.
Critic Manavendra K. Thakur was appreciative of the direction of the film and wrote, "Olivera seems to have kept his integrity mostly intact. He does not shy away from disturbing realities, and he draws a surprisingly complex portrait of the students, their captors, and the students' parents. The film's accomplishment in this regard is considerable and therefore worthy of serious attention...[and] this is especially true of the film's second half."
Caryn James, film critic for The New York Times, also liked Olivera's work, and wrote, "Mr. Olivera builds his film on irony and contrast, so the visual beauty of the early scenes - the deep blue night in which cars and lights glisten - calls attention to the ominous unseen political dangers. In daylight, the once-beautiful, now crumbling buildings, including the high school itself, become emblems of a country falling apart, not knowing what to preserve from its past."
- Moscow International Film Festival: Golden Prize, Héctor Olivera; 1987.
- ^ La noche de los lápices at the Internet Movie Database.
- ^ Florida International University. Latin America & Caribbean Center, New Latin American and Caribbean Videos, Summer 2002. Last accessed: January 1, 2007.
- ^ Dartmouth College. Digital library data base; Argentine films. Last accessed: January 29, 2007.
- ^ IMDb, ibid.
- ^ International Film Festival on Human Rights screen program.
- ^ Thakur, Manavendra K. The Tech, Volume 109, Number 54, page 9, December 1, 1989. Last accessed: January 15, 2008.
- ^ James, Caryn. La Noche de los Lapices (1986) The New York Times, film review, March 14, 1987. Last accessed: October 18, 2009.
- La noche de los lápices at the Internet Movie Database
- La noche de los lápices at cinenacional.com. (Spanish)
- Night of the Pencils selected scenes at You Tube
- "Freedom Nourishes Argentine Movies" by Shirley Christian at The New York Times, March 29, 1987.
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