Why a movie about democracy in Argentina is so vital

Peter Lanzani was particularly moved by the scene the place the lawyer he performs in “Argentina, 1985” confronts his nationalistic mom loyal to the regime.

(Richie Ramirez Jr. / For The Times)

Santiago Mitre’s historic drama “Argentina, 1985” tells the true story of the authorized group, led by chief prosecutor Julio Strassera (Ricardo Darín), that introduced a army dictatorship to justice in a civilian court docket. It additionally, not directly, establishes the origin story of Luis Moreno Ocampo, the younger deputy prosecutor who — after serving as Strassera’s courtroom associate — would later turn out to be the founding chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

In the movie, which gained the Golden Globe for non-English language movement image, and is Oscar-nominated for worldwide characteristic movie, Moreno Ocampo is performed by Peter Lanzani, in a memorable supporting position.

Moreno Ocampo and Lanzani had not met in individual till after “Argentina, 1985” was filmed, however in a latest Zoom dialog — the place the 2 known as from Malibu and New York City, respectively — their affinity for one another was evident.

“He’s not me, but he’s a sincere Moreno Ocampo,” the real-life prosecutor says. “Peter is the age of my own son, and he is a hero to the younger generation. We have to inform them about what happened, because for people born after 1985, democracy feels normal — and it is not normal. Even in the U.S. and Brazil you have to fight for it, and Peter has helped younger generations understand that fight.”

Luis Moreno Ocampo

“The testimonies and the closing arguments are exactly what happened in court, word for word,” says Luis Moreno Ocampo of “Argentina, 1985.” Moreno Ocampo helped within the prosecution of that nation’s army dictatorship.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

In making ready for the position, Lanzani says he didn’t assessment video footage of his real-life counterpart. “We didn’t want to make a documentary about what happened,” he says. “We went into it with respect, but we made our own version of Luis, instead of just imitating the real person.”

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Even so, Moreno Ocampo provides, the movie is true to the historic document and his personal experiences. “Santiago interviewed me for three years, and his script is really precise,” he says. “The testimonies and the closing arguments are exactly what happened in court, word for word. The creativity is all in the context.”

In an unprecedented enterprise by a democratic authorities, the trial of the juntas immediately established the guilt of former presidents, admirals and brigadiers. During the trial, Strassera and Moreno Ocampo’s prosecution group foregrounded the testimony of victims of kidnapping, torture and homicide throughout Argentina’s Dirty War.

The movie’s texture is outlined not simply by the victims’ testimony, but additionally by the emotionally charged scenes that happen outdoors the courtroom. Alongside the central activity of swaying a panel of judges, Moreno Ocampo confronted the problem of convincing his personal mom of the army junta’s guilt.

Two men in suits -- one pointing to someone out of the frame -- sit at a table with microphones in "Argentina, 1985."

Ricardo Darín, at left, and Peter Lanzani star as prosecutors trying to carry army leaders answerable for crimes in opposition to humanity to justice in “Argentina, 1985.”

(©Argentina,1985 La Unión de los Ríos & Kenya Films & Infinity Hill & Amazon Studios)

As a performer, Lanzani was particularly moved by the scene the place Moreno Ocampo confronts his nationalistic mom: “That moment is very powerful, because it’s not just one character talking to his mother. It’s talking to a whole part of Argentina, and convincing our society that this trial has to happen.”

“Yes, my mother had a different mindset,” Moreno Ocampo provides. “My grandfather was a general, so she saw [former Argentinian President] Jorge Rafael Videla as her father. She went to the same church as him.” But she was ultimately swayed by the testimony of one of many regime’s victims, a younger instructor who was arrested whereas six months pregnant, then pressured to present beginning on the aspect of the highway.

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Moreno Ocampo says his mom’s change of coronary heart was delicate, however decisive: “She told me, ‘I still love General Videla, but you are right. He needs to go to jail.’”

His experiences in 1985 and afterward have made Moreno Ocampo a trusted skilled on questions of human rights, and the film’s reputation has sadly dovetailed with a collection of worldwide threats to democracy.

“Journalists from Brazil call me all the time because of Jan. 9 and the rebellion. Journalists in Spain call me because in 1975, they transitioned to democracy without any investigation into the past. I’m going to Washington in a couple weeks because they need to understand what happened on Jan. 6 in this country. The movie is called ‘Argentina, 1985,’ but it’s not just about Argentina and not just about 1985.”

Peter Lanzani.

Peter Lanzani.

(Richie Ramirez Jr. / For The Times)

Moreno Ocampo’s storied authorized profession features a decade within the Hague, after which educating roles at Yale and Harvard, however he’s now primarily targeted on problems with narrative and illustration.

“I came to L.A. to teach in the USC Cinematic Arts School because I learned that you have to win your cases for the judges, but then you also have to win the communication, the narrative, the memory.”

In his class, “Shaping the World With Cinematic Arts,” Moreno Ocampo (together with co-professor Ted Braun) is targeted on “the interplay between global crisis and the cinematic arts, [and] the ways in which different narratives define conflict.” His syllabus contains “The Battle of Algiers,” “Judgment at Nuremberg” and “Homeland.”

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What would an Oscar win imply to the group from Argentina? Moreno Ocampo sees the marketing campaign as an extension of his lifelong quest for justice.

“When I was first trying to promote this discussion, using the evidence I collected on the dictatorship, I wrote a book. The book sold 10,000 copies in two months. But the movie was watched by 1 million people in Argentina in a single month! And now with Amazon, it can reach 10 million people across the world, and an Oscar would add another 20 million, and that is incredibly important. The point of this Oscar promotion is to promote democracy and values and respect.”