Memoirs for Estela Bravo
- CENTRO CULTURAL
PABLO DE LA TORRIENTE BRAU
Número 96, diciembre de 2007
"Porque mis ojos se han hecho
para ver las cosas extraordinarias.
Y mi maquinita para contarlas.
Y eso es todo." (Pablo)
"Because my eyes were made
to see extraordinary things.
And my typewriter to tell them.
And that is everything." (Pablo)
Memoirs for Estela
By Estrella Díaz
A CubaNews translation by Ana Portela. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Who am I? The Found Children of Argentina, by the renowned US documentary
filmmaker, Estela Bravo, received the Memoria 2007 prize awarded by the
Pablo de la Torriente Brau Cultural Center during the 29th International
Latin American Film Festival which concluded December 14 in Havana.
According to the jury formed by Víctor Casaus, María Santucho and Ariel
Díaz, the documentary convincingly and effectively achieves continuity to a
story begun twenty years ago.
They add that Who am I? The Found Children of Argentina is a creative
follow up and a tender and efficient treatment of a moving subject, of
sensitive importance for Argentine and Latin American reality of our times,
finding new facets which achieve a high communication capacity with the
It further adds that the documentary contributes to the enrichment of the
work of one of the greatest creators of this genre in the continent and
combines, with consequence and fidelity, to the sharp refection with a
sensitive and human vision of her subjects.
The documentary award, Memoria, given by the Pablo de la Torriente Brau
Cultural Center, for eight years during the Festival of New Latin American
Films. This time, it consisted of an original work by Eduardo Roca (Choco),
master of Cuban fine arts.
General Accord of the MEMORIA 2007 DOCUMENTARY AWARD
by the jury 29th New Latin American Film Festival
The jury of the Memoria Documentary Award given by the Pablo de la Torriente
Brau Cultural Center, composed this time of Víctor Casaus, María Santucho
and Ariel Díaz, after having examined the documentaries presented in
competition at the 29th New Latin American Film Festival, decided the
To reaffirm the importance of rescuing and in defense of the historical and
cultural memory of our peoples in the times we are living through, and the
need to defend the values of solidarity and humanism in the fight for
liberty and justice.
To note the diversity of subjects of the participating documentaries to this
29th Festival, a broad scenario of the reality of our continent, expressed
by a high quality in many of the participants.
To remember by all of us the need to creatively use the capacity for
synthesis which the documentary genre presupposes, paying special attention
to excessive lengths that tend to conspire against the final result of the
works and the efficiency of communication with the spectator.
In lieu of these premises and expressions the Jury decided to award the
Premio Documental Memoria in this 29th Latin American Film Festival.
For achievement, convincingly and effectively to the continuity of a story
which began 20 years ago.
To give creative and tender and efficient follow-up to a moving subject of
sensitive importance for Argentine and Latin American reality in our times,
finding new facts which achieve a high capacity of communication with the
For contributing to the enrichment of the work of one of the greatest
creators of the genre on the continent who has combined, with consciousness
and fidelity, to the sharpness of reflection with a sensitive and humanist
vision of her subjects.
To the documentary, Who am I? The Found Children of Argentina by Estela
Hereby signed in Havana, Cuba
on the 13th day of December 2007,
on the eve of the conclusion of the
29th Latin American Film Festival
by Víctor Casaus / María Santucho / Ariel Díaz
Who am I? And the Grandmothers
By Estrella Díaz
Estela Bravo (United States, 1933) is a filmmaker with an intense and
awarded work that has, as a common denominator, as well as talent, the depth
to search for, find, focus and unravel histories that hit the heart but also
towards justice in favor of the best of a human being.
Who am I? The Found Children of Argentina, with script by Estela Bravo and
production by Ernesto Bravo and Susan Sillins, as the title suggests, is an
approach to a subject that is as current as it is sensitive.
Estela Bravo says that it is a very hidden, very covered story that
recently, now, with the current Argentine government, that files are being
opened and the assassins being tried. There are almost one thousand legal
processes pending accusing persons who did horrible things to their own
people and stile there are many mothers searching for the remains of their
children and grandmothers searching for their grandchildren. Of the 500
disappeared children, eighty-eight have been found. What an achievement! But
it should not be forgotten that many of these grandmothers approach or
surpass eighty years of age.
Biological time is running out .
Yes, but there is a genetic blood bank and if a person doubts their identity
they can go to the bank, have a blood extraction and check their DNA. That
way they can find out if they belong to one of the families who are
searching for him/her.
The tests are done in the Hospital Durán. Many young people show up although
they are not disappeared children they are adopted and also those who want
to find their true identity. The work of the Plaza de Mayo Grandmothers is
impressive and especially that of Estela Carlotto, the president. We made
Disappeared Children in 1984 with Tristan Baur, a subject that is very
painful. I lived in Argentina from 1955 to 1963.
Undoubtedly the subject is very close to your heart
Of course and I think that if we had stayed in Argentina it may have
happened to us. In 1951, before the military dictatorships my husband was
tortured and had it not been for the Argentine students, he would never have
been freed. He was tortured with an electric cattle prod and it was very
Is that why you take up this subject with so much force?
Also because I met Estela Carlotto during a meeting of the Plaza de Mayo
Grandmothers at New York University and we sat together and she made me
promise and swear that I would conclude with a film about the Found
Then this is like a sequel?
Yes. We filmed in 1986 but we never continued. This film has two parts: the
first is from 1986 and then we filmed twenty years later. The material that
was unpublished and shown in film theaters we passed to video and we
included it in the film. It was very difficult because they are two
different times. In the second part Estela Carlotta says: For twenty years
we have said that, in the future, the children are going to find us. And
that is what is happening. The children are now adults and a looking for
their own identity.
What facilities did you have to do the documentary?
What I have always had from the Plaza de Mayo Grandmothers. It happened like
this. Juan Cabandie, who is the main person in the film called to tell me he
went to Costa Rica to meet an uncle, my mothers brother, whom he had not
He was one of the found children and his story is very powerful; when he
began to tell me I told him to stop, stop. I looked for Sara Gómez, who was
working in the Film School and we filmed him telling his story. That was the
core of the film.
The images filmed were by chance?
By chance and in NTSC and had to be transferred to PAL and, although
something was lost in quality, the sentiments are in the interview.
You are a very sensitive and that sensitivity is also found in your work.
Doesnt this tear your heart too much when you face such a hard subject?
It affects me as it does Ernesto (her partner in life and producer of the
documentary) but I have always wanted to transmit what I feel: I want all
the rest to see what I see and feel what I feel: I want to share
information, pain or joy.
What use to you find with this documentary?
The value of the material is that any young person, in any part of the world
can see it and have doubts of his identity. Well then they go to the Plaza
de Mayo grandmothers to have a DNA test. Perhaps a grandmother is still
looking for them. That is happening; those who were children are not adults,
and they are looking for them. Before it was just the grandmothers but no
But those meetings cause a series of conflicts and later contradictions
And there are cases of children who do not want to know: they doubt or have
the certainty and refuse to have a blood test made; that happens a lot. I am
convinced that sooner or later they may want to know the truth.
That is the reason for the name of the documentary: Who am I? Who is my
real mother? Who is my real father? Who are my grandparents? Are they
still alive? Still there are those who have reservations about the trials of
the military who dont want the truth to be known. There are many people
We know that there is also a pact of silence: they are not talking. The
military lie and many know perfectly well what was done with those children.
It is very sad and painful but that is still reality, even in 2007.
You and Ernesto are always working and have made thirty-four documentaries.
Do you have something new in mind, in project?
We want to gather all the films we have made and begin an exhaustive work of
archive. We have a very complete bank of images of Latin America. Very
interesting material that, at some time, had been set aside. We want to put
this material in order and preserve it to prevent losing it.
That is undoubtedly facing the future, for the Latin American film memory,
dont you think so?
We have a lot of material from the Fidel film the untold story that we did
not use and all this material may serve for a book because it is chock full
of anecdotes. Not everything that is filmed can be used in the final product
and the discarded are truly valuable but cannot be included for several
reasons but deserve to be used in other films.