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Las Madres De La Plaza De Mayo Directors: Lourdes Portillo and Susana Blaustein Muñoz
Premiere: Sundance Film Festival 1986, Documentary Competition
Award: Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize, Documentary

From the 1986 Sundance Film Festival Catalog

Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo is a powerful story of the Argentine mothers who protested the 30,000 people who disappeared during the wave of kidnappings and killings that took place during the 1970’s. During this time the Argentine military government waged a “dirty war” against left-wing “subversives,” most of whom were youthful, active, idealistic and uncharged. Through the mid-1970’s, families who sought official information about their missing relatives were dismissed with denials. In April 1977, 14 mothers marched around the Presidential Palace in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, demanding to know what happened to their missing children. Anguish and courage mark the faces of the women who gather every Thursday wearing pictures of their missing children around their necks. It is as though the idealism and activism of the missing children is being reborn in the older generation. The “Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo” have grown into an organization with over 2,500 members. Today, they have mounted an international campaign demanding the release of all disappeared persons in Argentina and beyond.

Why She Matters

Chicana filmmaker Lourdes Portillo’s first feature documentary Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo gave voice to a community of overlooked Argentinean mothers vying for justice amidst a growing wave of Latin American dictatorships. Portillo uses her singular voice to explore Latino and female identity, whether it is a celebration of the Day of the Dead (La Ofrenda) or an elegy to the women of Juarez (Señorita Extraviada). Today, Portillo has her own production company, Xochitl Productions, and continues to make films at 73 years old. Her latest is the experimental documentary Al Más Allá.

“Her films/videos bear witness to injustice and suffering and convey the concerns of Latinas and Latinos across the Américas without sacrificing their dignity and vitality. Portillo’s marvelously evocative films place women at the center of her stories.”

Rosa-Linda Fregoso, The Feminist Wire, 2012

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