September Flowers

A doc about the kidnapping and murder of Argentine citizens under the military dictatorship in the 1970s, "September Flowers" manages to be involving and moving because its subject is the disappearance of high school students. Main handicap is non-stop subtitles, which on fest print were poorly done and unnecessarily detailed.

A somewhat familiar-looking doc about the kidnapping and murder of Argentine citizens under the military dictatorship in the 1970s, “September Flowers” manages to be involving and moving because its subject is the disappearance of high school students. By focusing on five young desaparecidos who vanished from Carlos Pellegrini High School in Buenos Aires, filmmakers Pablo Osores, Roberto Testa and Nicolas Wanszelbaum poignantly represent the period’s horror, which numbered some 30,000 victims. Main handicap for foreign viewers is the need to read non-stop subtitles, which on fest print were poorly done and unnecessarily detailed.

Filmmakers interweave interviews with classmates and relatives of the five victims, plucked from their homes or the street and sent to die in prison camps. Many of the interviewees offer cogent political analyses as well as emotional memories. In hindsight, it’s painfully clear the idealistic kids, labeled “enemies of Western Christianity” by the junta for their ideas about fighting injustice — and ostracized by the disciplinary school authorities — stood no chance. Film is particularly valuable in portraying life under the dictatorship, which included normal moments of happiness and adolescent growing pains, along with ominously empty school desks.

September Flowers

Argentina

Production: A De Este Mundo Producciones/Carlos Pellegrini Commercial High School production in association with Memoria Abierta/Zafra Cine Diffusion. Directed by Pablo Osores, Roberto Testa, Nicolas Wanszelbaum. Screenplay, Testa.

Crew: Camera (color, Betacam), Sebastian Sperling; editor, Lucas Blanco; music, Rafael Arcaute, Luis Alberto Spinetta. Reviewed at Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival, April 20, 2003. Running time: 111 MIN.

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