After World Cup win, Argentina has eyes set on an Oscar too
Santiago Mitre, director of "Argentina, 1985", nominated for a best foreign film Oscar, poses for portraits in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, February 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Less than three months after Argentina won its third football World Cup trophy in Qatar, there is growing excitement about the possibility that the country could take home another major prize – an Academy Award.

A win at Sunday’s ceremony for “Argentina, 1985,” would be the country’s third win at the Oscars, a nice bit of symmetry for the country as it continues to revel in its football triumph.

“Argentina, 1985” tells the story of the prosecutors who brought leaders of Argentina’s bloody 1976-1983 military dictatorship to trial and is competing for best international film. It’s been a box-office hit and an important reminder of how the country grappled with the crimes of a dictatorship that claimed tens of thousands of lives. And its awards season run has once again brought positive attention to Argentina.

“After the World Cup win, this is an immense joy,” the film’s star Ricardo Darín said in Spanish at January’s Golden Globe Awards, where it won the prize for best non-English language film.

Darín plays Julio César Strassera, the chief prosecutor trying to bring leaders of the dictatorship to justice.

In a recent interview, he said that while he was joking at the Globes, he recognises Argentines felt “a lot of joy” when the film was nominated for an Oscar.

“Considering we’re still in the World Cup dynamic and the need to celebrate, it increases the euphoria of the celebration even more,” he said.

One of those joining that euphoria is Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi, the captain of the World Cup winning team, who called “Argentina, 1985” a “great movie” in a social media post last month, before adding: “Let’s go for the third.”

Director Santiago Mitre says that while the Oscars and World Cup are unrelated, both events have succeeded in uniting a normally polarized society around his film’s success.

“There is a desire to reconcile,” Mitre said in an interview in his home in Argentina’s capital, “To reconcile before this forced division that has been happening for so many years, from politics and from the media.”

There’s also a hunger for any bit of good news in a country with a bitterly divided political scene. The country has been stuck in economic doldrums for years, with almost four in 10 living in poverty and with the annual inflation rate at nearly 100 per cent.

People lined up outside movie theaters to watch “Argentina, 1985” during its main theatrical release. It is now available on Amazon Prime Video and faces stiff competition from another international streaming release, Netflix’s “All Quiet on the Western Front.” The German film is considered the front-runner in the category, which also includes Poland’s “Eo,”Belgium’s “Close” and Ireland’s “The Quiet Girl.”

Argentina’s last military dictatorship is widely considered to be the most deadly of the military rule that engulfed much of Latin America in the 1970s and ’80s. Human rights organisations say some 30,000 people were illegally detained and disappeared without a trace.

The way Argentina put its dictators on trial so soon after the return of democracy in 1983, makes the country an outlier among several others that also transitioned to democratic rule during the period.

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