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Memoirs for Estela Bravo

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  • Walter Lippmann
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2008
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      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)

      COVER STORY
      Memoirs for Estela
      By Estrella Díaz

      http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs1719.html
      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
      viewer”. 

      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
      following: 

      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
      spectator. 

      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
      Bravo. 

      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
      hard…

      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
      Children.

      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 mother’s brother, whom he had not
      met. 

      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.
      Doesn’t 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
      longer.  

      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 don’t want the truth to be known. There are many people
      involved. 

      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,
      don’t 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.
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