Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Anita" a Tale of Survival and Hope in Argentina

“Anita” a Story of Survival and Hope

By Skip Sheffield

Argentina is a fascinating country on the other side of the world from the USA, yet in many ways familiar.
There are probably more European immigrants in Argentina than any other South American country. Both former Nazis and Jews fleeing from persecution resettled in Argentina before, during and after World War II.
I offer this as background for an Argentinean film called “Anita.” The Anita of the title is a young Argentine woman with Down syndrome. Anita lives with her mother (award-winning Argentine actress Alejandro Manzo) in Buenos Aries. Anita’s mother runs a small stationery shop she inherited from her late husband. One morning her mother leaves Anita in the shop so she can attend a Jewish anti-defamation league meeting. She locks the door and cautions Anita not to leave.
A horrendous explosion occurs while Anita is up on a footstool. The blast blows out the windows and door of the shop. Anita is knocked unconscious, but she recovers and wanders out through the wreckage in search of her mother.
Writer-director Marcos Carnevale was inspired by an actual anti-Jewish terrorist attack in Buenos Aries on July 18, 1994. The attack claimed the lives of 86 innocent victims and injured hundreds more. It was the single deadliest terrorist attack in Argentine history. The perpetrators have never been located or prosecuted, though the origins of the attack are strongly suspected to be in the Hezbollah anti-Israel, anti-West hate group in Iran.
But “Anita” is not about politics, violence or religion. It is about one mentally-challenged woman’s survival, with the help of complete strangers. “Anita” celebrates human compassion. Not all of Anita’s protectors are willing or selfless. Some pass the buck, so to speak, but conscience inevitably draws them back in.
For this reason I find “Anita” a wondrously hopeful film. If you believe in the inherent goodness of human beings, it is the “feel-good” movie of the season.

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