Juan: As if Nothing Ever Happened (Juan: Coma si Nada Hubiera Sucedido)

Director: Carlos Echeverria

Institute History

  • 1988 Sundance Film Festival


In the town of Bariloche, in the south of Argentina, in the year 1977, a young man named Juan Marcos Herman “disappeared.” In the same town of Bariloche ten years later, another young man enters the time machine of inquiry to try to find out what became of young Herman and of the men responsible for his certain death. Using a 22-year-old radio journalist as a sort of alter ego (he stands in for the kidnapped Herman as well as for the filmmaker and the audience itself), Echeverria uses immense care in constructing a chillingly matter-of-fact portrait of murder and normalization.

The journalist and Echeverria start methodically with the day of Herman’s disappearance and the memories of his family, slowly widening the circle of time and people to include friends, neighbors, and eventually the various representatives of the military, police and security apparatus. It seems that no one knew anything, no one did anything. How strange. And yet the evasions, contradictions, and defenses of the officials interviewed begin to pile up, until the denials themselves become the most convincing proofs. When the silence of neighbors begins to crack and yield other clues, the line of inquiry becomes even clearer. How much worse, then, that it leads nowhere but the dead end of normalization. A moving meditiation on the nature of justice and the fragility of democracy to emerge from Argentina.

— Tony Safford

Screening Details

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