‘Argentina 1985’ beaten to Oscar by ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’

Santiago Mitre’s film about the Trial of the Juntas pipped at the post by the German war epic

Argentina, 1985 was beaten to the Oscar for Best International Feature Film by Edward Berger’s All Quiet on the Western Front at tonight’s Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.   

Santiago Mitre’s film about the prosecution team behind Argentina’s landmark Trial of the Juntas would have become the third Argentine film to win an Oscar in that category, after Luis Puenzo’s The Official Story in 1986 and Juan José Campanella’s The Secret in Their Eyes in 2010.

The slate included EO (Poland), Close (Belgium), The Quiet Girl (Ireland), and winner All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany), a category favorite which was nominated for nine other categories, including Best Picture. 

Based on the 1929 novel by Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front follows the fortunes of a young German trying to survive the trench warfare of the First World War.

Although Argentina, 1985 missed out on the Oscar, the film – a co-production between La Union de los Ríos, Infinity Hill, and Kenya Films, has had a hugely successful international run. It premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year, where it won the FIPRESCI award from the international federation of film reporters. It later went on to collect the Audience Award at the San Sebastian film festival and the Golden Globe for best picture in non-English language. It also obtained a BAFTA nomination in the UK, and broke the record at the Platino Awards (the self-promoted “Latin American Oscars˝) with 14 nominations.  

Following the Oscar nomination, the film had been praised on social media by global celebrities the likes of Lionel Messi, Hollywood star Pedro Pascal, pop star Ricky Martin and even Brazilian president Lula da Silva.  

President Alberto Fernández tweeted immediately after the announcement: “I want to congratulate every person who was part of the wonderful film #Argentina1985. #Oscars. Despite not winning this recognition, let’s celebrate the huge pride of having Argentine cinema representing us in the world, for democracy and with endless talent”.

This year Argentina reaches 40 years of uninterrupted democracy. Our commitment to Memory, Truth and Justice is intact, violence must disappear and the people’s will must exist forever,” he added.

An Amazon Studios-backed co-production starring Ricardo Darin and Peter Lanzani as real-life prosecutors Julio Strassera and Luis Moreno Ocampo, Argentina, 1985 focuses on the efforts of Strassera’s young team of legal aids to try the leaders of the military dictatorship that ruled the country between 1976 and 1983 for kidnapping, torture and homicide on a massive scale. The trial was the first time in history that a civilian court brought the leaders of a military dictatorship to justice.

Back home in Argentina, Mitre’s fourth feature-length film topped the box office, following a controversial limited theatrical release when all major multiplexes refused to screen the film in opposition to Amazon’s “theatrical window” of two weeks before it could become available for online streaming worldwide. 

Before the ceremony, which he was about to cover as a reporter for TNT network, producer Axel Kuschevatzky posted an Instagram reel from the Red Carpet. 

“Anything that happens from now on is dedicated also to the people who made this trial possible: prosecutors, judges, president Raul Alfonsin, and especially the victims of state terrorism, and those who were brave enough to stand inches away from the people responsible for one of the greatest horrors of our history and tell the truth about what happened,” he said.  

“The important thing is that we do not forget.”

Update 23:09 – adds reaction of President Alberto Fernández


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