“Cautiva,” Gastón Biraben

By Laura Cossette

The film Cautiva tells the story of an adolescent girl who learns that she is the daughter of desaparecidos. The film begins with her life before she discovers her true background, showing that she is very happy with, what she believes to be, her family. An interesting bit of foreshadowing is the disturbance that occurs in one of Cristina’s classes towards the beginning of the film. During a history lesson, a fellow classmate has an outburst in which she tells of what really happened during the Dirty War; she speaks of all the people who disappeared. She does this because she is, in fact, the daughter of desaparecidos. The story progresses and we see that Cristina does have a rebellious side, she is seen smoking cigarettes in the bathroom, but overall she gets along perfectly with her family and seems to have a desirable life. However, her world is flipped upside down when she is told by a judge that she is the daughter of a man and a woman who are desaparecidos. She is subsequently taken from the home where she was living, and she lives with her biological grandmother.

At first, Cristina refuses to accept the circumstances she is put in and still wants to live with her appropriators. She is clearly angry and confused and does not want to lead the life of Sofia Lombardi, which she is told is her birth name. However, with the help of her friend Angelica, her former classmate, who is also the daughter of a desaperecido, she gradually begins piecing her life together. Although the transition is rough, Cristina slowly begins to adjust to her new life. She meets many members of her biological family, and eventually forms a very strong bond with her grandmother. She reaches a point where she accepts the life of Sofia Lombardi and rejects the life she used to live as Cristina.

The most striking thing about Cautiva to many of the members of our Learning Cluster was its irrefutable resemblance to the life of Victoria Donda. After having read Donda’s book, My Name is Victoria, we all saw many things in common between the two stories, however, there is no reference to Donda’s book or her, so as of now it is simply a theory we have. Overall, it was a very powerful movie that offered a much more tangible insight into the life and experiences of an appropriated child. The visual representations of Cristina/Sofia’s emotional struggles made the experience more real and relatable. Cautiva is a very valuable film in understanding the history of Argentina and the battle that appropriated children face once they learn about their true roots and have to face Argentina’s bloody history firsthand.

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