Virginia Film Society to Screen 'Our Disappeared,' with Director Juan Mandelbaum, on Nov. 11

October 31, 2008

October 31, 2008  — Documentary filmmaker and director Juan Mandelbaum will be on hand for the screening of his latest film, "Our Disappeared" ("Nuestros Desaparecidos"), to be shown at Vinegar Hill Theatre Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. The screening is part of the Virginia Film Society series.

Mandelbaum tells his story through archival footage and contemporary interviews with parents, siblings, friends and children of Argentina's "disappeared"  those kidnapped, tortured and killed by the ruling right-wing military junta during the 1976-83 dictatorship.

The genesis for the film occurred about four years ago. Mandelbaum, who lives in the U.S. but grew up in Buenos Aires, the son of German immigrants who fled Germany to escape World War II, happened to think about an old girlfriend in Argentina. He wondered what she was doing and decided to look her up. His Google search led to a disturbing discovery: Her name was among the thousands on a list of Argentina's "disappeared."

Mandelbaum, 57, decided to find out what had happened to her and others who'd been a part of his life there. He envisioned his quest as a film, a "personal search for the souls of friends who disappeared in Argentina," as he wrote in an early film treatment. He traveled to Argentina six times over the next three years to conduct interviews and document his search, a task that grew more disturbing as he uncovered details of the disappearances of his former girlfriend and 11 other close friends.

His resulting film, which was screened last month at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival and is going to air on PBS next year on "Independent Lens," unearths the buried past and revisits the tension and energy of that dark chapter in Argentina's history.

About the Virginia Film Society

Virginia Film Society events are co-sponsored by the Virginia Film Festival and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Most screenings feature guest speakers. Admission to individual screenings is $9 and free to society members. Individual admission tickets may be purchased 30 minutes before the screening when seats are available.

A full-year membership in the Virginia Film Society is $60 ($50 for students and seniors). Membership benefits include admission to the screenings throughout the year, one free pass to Regal Cinemas, $2 off Mondays at Sneak Reviews and $6.50 Tuesday movies at Vinegar Hill Theatre.

For information on membership in the Virginia Film Society, to download an application or to view the full fall season schedule, visit For information about the Manhattan Short Film Festival, visit

— By Jane Ford