Fish (Dorian Healy) and Reuben (Denzel Washington) send the baililt on his way in

For Queen and Country

his death in the sinking of the General Belgrano. Remarkably. the film is a co-production between the Institu Nacional de Cinematografia ofArgentina and the British Film Institute, a product of young director Miguel Pereira‘s time as an aspiring film student and working technician in both countries. Thus. its British release could well play a part in rebuilding cross-cultural understanding. as relations since the Malvinas’ conflict continue their slow thaw.

For Pereira however, the film is primarily concerned with exploring both the historical associations of his native Juyjuy. and its treatment at the hands of the 1976 military coup. ‘Most of Argentina's war of independence against the Spanish was fought there in the north.‘ he explains. ‘and General Belgrano was the leader of the rebel forces in their twenty-year struggle. It was Belgrano who created the Argentinian flag four years before independence was finally declared in

1816. and who presented it to the provincial capital San Salvador as a tribute to the people of the area. So as a result. Belgrano has become a kind offigurehead. and during their compulsory military service a substantial number of the young kids. many of whom are Indians. illiterate peasants who‘ve never even seen the sea before. tended to join the navy and serve on that particular ship. With tragic consequences. obviously.‘

Based on a true story. which Pereira discovered while filming a documentary on the boy‘s schoolteacher. the film‘s original title La Deuda lnterna (‘The Internal Debt‘) refers to the toll taken on the poorest areas of the country by the Falklands War. and also hints at the wider issue of the Junta’s appalling human rights record. “The film certainly reflects my own experience ofthe 1976 takeover.’ Pereira continues. ‘when a kind ofcreeping military bureaucracy gradually extended to even the most remote

(“‘51. .I a

The Schaolteacher (Juan Jose Camera) comfort each other in Veronica Cruz

hamlets. 'l‘hey estimate that around 30.000 people disappeared because oftheir political allegiances. In Argentina. a familiar pattern in practically every family is that the older brother or sister was kidnapped and tortured by the Junta. while the younger brother was sent to fight in the war.’

The narrative of Veronico ('ruz focuses on a tiny rural village as a microcosm of Argentinian society at large. and uses the emotional force of young Veronico‘s story to draw the audience into the questions the film poses. Pereira believes that such an approach can be more productive than a more purely ideological strain of film-making. especially in the climate of political uncertainty that still persists at home: ‘ln Argentina. although we‘ve had a democratic government since 1983. the real power still lies with the army. like a sword of Damocles hanging over us. Now is the time to consolidate democracy by saying these things. by revisinLthe past.‘

nd Veronica Cruz (anal; rales)

l I I

In the meantime. he hopes to tackle a project that will look at the destruction of the traditional gaucho lifestyle by modern industrialisation. and at the same time maintain Argentine-British film-making links. ‘I want to join the two worlds. I can bring to this country different stories. different lives. different landscapes. At the same time. the expertise of your technicians and your investment in production is very good for Argentina.‘

For Queen And Country opens at ( 'annon cinemas across Central Scotland on 27January. See this issue 's Film listings forfull details.

Veronico Cruz is at the Edinburgh Film/rouse 1.4 February. and is reviewed in full in the Film section this issue .

The List 27 January 9 February 11