Gaston Biraben

After what feels like only a few minutes into this unnerving portrait sure to rattle parents everywhere, Argentine teenage student Cristina Quadri (Barbara Lombardo) is removed from her Catholic school and taken to see a judge who informs her that her real name is Sofia Lombardi and she is the daughter of two political activists who were among the estimated thirty thousand people who “disappeared” during the country’s “dirty war” and last dictatorship. Sent to live with the biological grandmother she's never met, Cristina understandably struggles with the revelation but after befriending another girl (one of the roughly seventy-four recovered) begins looking into her genealogy and what happened in the 1970’s during that tumultuous political era that is so vast that most of the participants haven’t been caught, still remaining in Argentina and as the film states, protected by governmental laws. Obviously a highly personal and passionate film from first time writer and director Gaston Biraben, a former sound department contributor on movies such as Return to Me, The Fugitive and My Cousin Vinny, Biraben’s film triumphs due to its emotional impact and impressively mature young actress in the lead role but Cristina/Sofia’s acclimation to her new environment feels a bit rushed. Cautiva, now released on DVD and available for both rental and instant watching on Netflix earned five international awards and six nominations.

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