Santiago Mitre understands the power that cinema has to inspire change. The Argentine writer-director's latest film, Argentina, 1985, is a courtroom drama about "The Trial of the Juntas," in which the country's last military dictatorship was brought to justice. The biopic shines a light into Argentina's dark history, but also, Mitre hopes, inspires people today to continue the fight for their political freedom.
The filmmaker centers the drama on prosecutors Luis Moreno Ocampo and Julio Cesar Strassera, played by Peter Lanzani and Ricardo Darín, respectively. (The latter, an icon of Argentine acting, also starred in Mitre's 2017 film, The Summit.) Argentina, 1985 is about regular human beings making the impossible possible.
"Not too many people in my country remember the trial," Mitre says. "It was surprising to see how little people remembered it, because it's such an important event for the building of the democracy in Argentina. And I'm happy that we are putting some light again on it — that's what cinema can do."
Representing its namesake country at the 95th Oscars, Argentina, 1985 is up for Best International Feature Film. "It was a great honor for me to tell this story, which is not only deeply personal for Argentinians, but also urgent for countless people across the world," the director said of the nomination. "The future of democracy is in our hands."
MORE: Santiago Mitre Reveals the Difficulty of Recreating the Trial of the Juntas in 'Argentina, 1985' (Exclusive)
Below, Mitre shares the five films that most influenced his approach to filmmaking.
This article was originally published on Oct. 19, 2022.
Where to Watch: The Criterion Channel
Directed by: Roberto Rossellini | Written by: Roberto Rossellini, Sandro De Feo, Mario Pannunzio, Ivo Perilli, and Brunello Rondi
It's a film that I loved so much. I think it's dealing with politics and the sensitivity of politics in such a deep and strong way. It was very inspirational for me in one of my films that's called Paulina. And I'm a huge fan of Ingrid Bergman, and Roberto Rossellini also, so I love all the things they did together, like Stromboli or Viaggio in Italia.
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock | Written by: Ben Hecht
It's a film that I would include in any list whenever I'm speaking about the films that I love. So complex and so melodramatic in the best way possible. The couple that Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant make, it's amazing. I'm big fan of Ingrid Bergman in every aspect.
Where to Watch: The Criterion Channel
Directed by: Pier Paolo Pasolini | Written by: Pier Paolo Pasolini and Sergio Citti
This is the first film that Pasolini directed, and it is a film that I was in love with since the first time I saw it — it's so complex with such a controversial main character, but still likable. It's such a powerful and ageless film, and shot in an amazingly beautiful form beside the darkness of the topic, or the experience of the director at that moment. Now, he's a genius that we all consider a genius, but that first film for me is something unique.
Directed and written by: Fabián Bielinsky
It's an Argentinian one. It was also the first film for Bielinsky, and I think, one of the masterful performances of Ricardo Darín, who is an actor that I, of course, love. I had admired him for a long time, and when I saw what he did with this character in this film, I understood the greatness that he has as an actor.
Directed by: John Ford | Written by: James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck
I'm not going to be very original here, but it's such a masterpiece, so complex in the way it explains the birth of a nation through the construction of myth. James Stewart is in it and John Wayne, which they both are always great to see on film.