By Alice Pickard
Directed by Luis Puenzo
Original title: “La Historia Oficial”
Set in the final years of the last military dictatorship in Argentina (1976-1983), The Official Story is unafraid of exploring the pain that this period brought to the country. It focuses on Alicia (Norma Aleandro), a history teacher in an upper middle class family, married to Roberto (Héctir Alterio), a government agent, and their adopted daughter, Gaby (Analia Castro).
Whilst initially Alicia can’t understand her students’ opposition to the official “˜text book’ history, she goes on to undertake a search for the truth in her own life, just like the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo who are demanding the truth about their sons and daughters who “disappeared” under the dictatorship for their liberal beliefs.
As Gaby celebrates her fifth birthday, Alicia starts asking herself questions about her daughter’s real birthday and parents, and discovers that it is likely that her biological parents were in fact amongst the thousands of desaparecidos. Like Alicia did with her class, her husband tells her not to ask questions and yet, unlike his wife, he knows the sinister reality that the official version of events is concealing.
This is a powerful commentary on the blurred lines between truth and fiction within the family and in the bigger picture of society as a whole, with the two cases being intrinsically linked.
The film is supported by a very strong cast, with Norma Aleandro winning the Cannes Award for Best Actress. The film itself deservedly proceeded to win a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award in 1986.