What happened in Argentina in 1985? Mitre’s drama scores Golden Globe

Bruno Cooke January 12, 2023
What happened in Argentina in 1985? Mitre’s drama scores Golden Globe
Closeup view of south american section of cheap plastic globe. Downloaded from Getty Images Creative.

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Argentina, 1985’s big win at the Golden Globes this week has put the country’s recent history under the spotlight – what happened in the 1980s that the film is narrating?

Directed by Argentinian screenwriter and award-winning director Santiago Mitre, Argentina, 1985 premiered in-competition at the Venice International Film Festival on September 3, 2022.

It then competed at the 37th Goya Awards and the 95th Academy Awards; the National Board of Review named it one of the top five international films of 2022.

But the current flurry of attention it’s receiving is for its victory at the 2022 Golden Globes, in the category Best Picture in Non-English Language.

Closeup view of south american section of cheap plastic globe

Is Argentina, 1985 based on real events?

Yes. Argentina, 1985 is based on real events, and follows the real-life Trial of the Juntas, which resulted in the prosecution of the ringleaders of Argentina’s last civil-military dictatorship.

Specifically, Argentina, 1985 focuses on the work of Julio César Strassera and Luis Moreno Ocampo.

The Trial of the Juntas (Spanish: ‘Juicio a las Juntas’) was the judicial trial of the members of the de facto military government that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983.

That period is known as the National Reorganization Process, or, in Spanish, ‘Proceso de Reorganización Nacional.’

Photo credit should read DANIEL GARCIA/AFP via Getty Images

What happened in Argentina in 1985?

While the so-called “Process” ended in 1983 with the conclusion of the reign of Reynaldo Bignone in December 10, the trials and subsequent convictions of the leaders of the government didn’t take place until 1985.

And it’s these trials that form the backbone of the movie Argentina, 1985.

The Trial of the Juntas began on April 22, 1985, during Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín’s presidency. He was the first head of state Argentina elected after the restoration of democracy in 1983.

Closing arguments took place on September 18, a few months after the trial began. Sentencing began in December. Two of the heads of the de facto military government received life sentences; one received a prison sentence of 17 years; Admiral Armando Lambruschini got eight years; and General Orlando Agosti got four and a half.

Movies have tackled the subject before

The Official Story (Spanish: ‘La historia oficial’) is a 1985 Argentine drama historical film. Luis Puenzo directed it. Its name in the UK was The Official Version.

Set in Argentina in 1983, The Official Story focuses on the lives of an upper middle class couple living in Buenos Aires with an illegally adopted child.

The movie came out in 1985, the same year as the Trial of the Juntas. So in a sense, this is also the correct answer to the question of what happened in 1985 – The Official Story came out!

It won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 58th Academy Awards. This was the first such victory for a Latin American film. But the suggestion is that Argentina, 1985 could follow in its footsteps.

What role did the United States play in Argentina in the 1970s and 1980s?

The National Reorganization Process – the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983 – received the support of the United States until a year before its disbandment.

Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave the military junta the “green light” to suppress any political opposition in 1976. He told the Argentinian foreign minister: “If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly.”

US Congress granted $50 million in security assistance to the military dictatorship. And in 1977 and 1978, the US sold more than $120 million in spare military parts to Argentina. The US Department of Defence also provided funds to train Argentine military officers.

Operation Condor, which the military dictatorships of Argentina and five other South American countries ran in the mid 1970s, had support from the CIA, according to multiple reports. It formed part of the US’s Cold War against the Eastern Bloc and leftwing governments in Latin America.

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Bruno Cooke has been a freelance journalist since 2019, primarily with GRV Media. He was an early contributor to The Focus, and has written for HITC, Groundviews and the Sheffield University newspaper – he earned his MA in Global Journalism there in 2021. He’s the Spoken Word Poetry Editor for The Friday Poem, and self-published his debut novel Reveries in 2019, which his mum called both a “fine read” and “excellent Christmas present”. Bruno has lived in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines and likes, among other things: bicycle touring, black and white Japanese films, pub quizzes, fermentation and baklava. In 2023, Bruno will set off with his partner on a round-the-world cycle.