Keswick Film Club - Reviews - The Clan

Reviews - The Clan

The Clan

Reviewed By Ann Martin

The Clan
The Clan
It was a chilling evening at the Film Club this Sunday. The film was introduced by someone who had lived in Argentina for some of the years of the 'dirty war' and described the atmosphere whereby no-one gossiped, talked about their friends and neighbours, questionned their behaviour, an indeed all knew of someone who had dissappeared. This was the setting for The Clan.

Directed by Pablo Trapero it didn't compete as a film with some of his previous films shown in Keswick, Carancho, and The White Elephant for me. But it created the horror and violence of the time.

The story introduced us to a family where the father, Arquimedes had been involved in the government's death squads. Once the government was overthrown and democratic government elected in, the father continued to kidnap and kill for money. The favourite son, Alejandro plays rugby and is a star of the local team but is involved with his father in kidnapping one of his friends who is kidnapped but then shot. The family disregard the screams of the people kidnapped and kept in the family home. Part of the chill of the film is how 'normal' the family seem to be in spite of all the activity that they know about but never mention. One son leaves home but returns and is similarly involved. Father and son are beautifully played and shot by the camera – the father almost expressionless with a cold gaze, the son, warm and popular.

There seems to be an expectation by the father that he will be protected even by the new regime but this is not the case and he and two sons are finally charged by the police. Trapero, the director recounts that before the trial of Arquímedes, Alejandro and another son, Daniel – the remaining family members were never charged – sections of the Argentinian press scoffed at the idea this perfect family could be guilty. Thanks to the family's legal team, Trapero says, the trial itself "was really a negotiation". After his conviction, Arquímedes enjoyed a prison life deeply relaxed by Argentinian standards, in which he successfully completed a law degree. "There were always these favours." So while Trapero was "terrified" about the response of the victims' families to the film, he says they were delighted. “I feel uncomfortable saying it, but one of them told me, 'Thank you – this is real justice.'"

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Keswick Film Club won the Best New Film Society at the British Federation Of Film Societies awards in 2000.

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