Burnt Oranges

Experimental documentary essay about the long-term effects of Argentina's 1970’s state terrorism. The film vividly reveals current life in Buenos Aires through the eyes of a long-gone native, while it also records and uncovers compelling testimonies of resistance, transformation, and hope. Burnt Oranges breaks new ground in documentary filmmaking by mixing a poetic personal firsthand witness narrative with documentary. The film establishes links between the struggles of the Argentine people with today’s world’s necessity to defend human rights, and preserve human dignity and democratic values.

  • Silvia Malagrino
  • Monica Flores Correa
  • Silvia Malagrino
  • Sharon Karp
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 30 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    July 25, 2005
  • Production Budget:
    160,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Gene Siskel Theatre
    United States
    September 21, 2005
    North American Premiere
  • ReelHeart Film Festival
    Canada Premiere
    2nd place best documentary
  • ReelTime Video and Film Forum Mary and Leigh Block Museum
  • Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard University
    United States
  • Sin Fronteras _ Latino Voice and Vision Film Festival
    United States
  • Albacete Documentales Film Festival
  • Facets Multimedia
    United States
  • Hannah Arendt Institute
    Buenos Aires
  • 3rd Sydney Latinamerican Film Festival
  • Centro Cultural de la Cooperacion Florian Gorini
    Buenos Aires
  • Embajada Argentina in Paris
  • Millenium Workshop Theatre
    New York
    United States
  • Brussels Film International Film Festival
Distribution Information
  • Libremedia
    Country: United States
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Silvia Malagrino

Silvia Malagrino is as an international award-winning artist, native of Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is Professor in Photography at The School of Art and Design of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Malagrino’s practice as an artist is fluid and essentially interdisciplinary. She works with different mediums— photography, digital video, language, light and sound to represent not only issues of historical and cultural interest but also to explore in depth the fancies, the intricacies, and the idiosyncrasies of the personal imagination.

Malagrino is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship, The National Endowment for the Arts Creativity Grant 2004, the Illinois Arts Council Artist's Fellowships (2004/2000/96/93/89/87); The National Endowment for the Arts Regional Fellowship (87); and was nominated for the Infinity Award of the International Center for Photography (98). Her works, which have been exhibited widely in the United States, Latin America and Europe, are included in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Milwaukee Art Museum; La Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, France; and the Fundaçao Athos Bulçao, Brazil, among many others.
In 1998 she created the poetic feature-length documentary titled Burnt Oranges. The film addresses the long-term effects and repercussions, personal and social, of Argentina’s 1970s state terrorism. Burnt Oranges received wide acceptance, and generated national and international venues of interconnectivity between different communities–artistic, academic, human rights, Latin American, and the general public.

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Director Statement

From 1976 to 1983, Argentina - the country where I was born and grew up- underwent a military dictatorship. Although one of the shortest in duration among the several military governments that Argentina had, this one was the most brutal. Thousands of people went into political exile and an estimated three million people fled the country. Between 15,000 and 30,000 political opponents were assassinated, tortured, imprisoned, “disappeared”. The military used the “disappearance” as a repressive method to impose their authoritarian regime and erase any trace of class struggle in this new and expanded Latin American version of the Nazi’s "Nacht und Nebel." (Night and Fog)

In 1978, sensing the danger for my life, I decided to flee and I left Argentina to settle in the US. I have lived here ever since. I am part of the same generation as the majority of the “disappeared.”

I returned to Argentina to visit for the first time nine years after my departure, and two years after democracy was installed in 1986; I visited again later in 1992; and also in the summer of 1998. Over the course of these three trips I observed the changes and transformations that occurred in the country: in 1986, the economic depression resulting from military rule, and the confusion, paranoia, and the shock after horrifying testimonies were revealed through the Commission for the Disappearance of Persons formed by the new democratic government to try the military; in 1992, a new scenario of social unrest due to acute unemployment and hyper-inflation, the anguish and bitterness over laws that decreed the immunity and the pardon of previously convicted ex-commanders; and in 1998, a country still shaken by poverty and social unrest but with a different spirit, strengthened in the long struggle to expose criminal politics, impunity and amnesia.

I decided to make a film that would both confront the horrors of the history that marked me, as well as testify to the redeeming aspects of that history – which is the work of the organizations for human rights in Argentina, and their continuing struggle.