Irish Film Institute -LION’S DEN



113 minutes| Argentina-South Korea-Brazil| 2008| Subtitled| Colour| Digital

This film was released 26th March 2010 and is no longer screening.

Forget all those cliches about women-in-prison movies, this Argentine saga of motherhood behind bars tells a story of resilience and hope rather than repression and exploitation. Martina Gusman’s staggering central performance traces a dramatic personal journey for a dissolute young woman who wakes up in a blood-splattered Buenos Aires flat, finds herself on trial for murder, and has her son while serving time – only then does the realisation the authorities can take her child away instil in her a new sense of purpose.

In a Hollywood movie, this would be odds-on Oscar material, but few American actresses would make their own pregnancy part of the storyline, or could indeed manifest the tigerish resolve required in these raw, uncompromising surroundings. Directed with an unfailing eye for emotional and visual authenticity by Gusman’s partner, leading Argentine auteur Pablo Trapero, this is a powerful statement that the worst of circumstances can succour fierce courage and deep humanity. Notes by Trevor Johnston

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