Though seldom publicized in North American history books, Argentina's eight-year "Dirty War" - a systematic and brutal reign of terror thrust onto the Argentine people from 1976 to 1983 - registers as one of the most unthinkable of all 20th century genocidal crimes. Several films (notably Eduardo Félix Wagner's documentary Mothers and Hector Olivera's acclaimed feature Funny Dirty Little War) have touched on this as a subject; Peter Sanders's documentary The Disappeared marks one of the few to filter the entire scope of the diseased nightmare through the perspective of one individual. A central aspect of the conflict involved the government's decision to abduct and exterminate random citizens "off the record" - including small children - thus instilling terror into the hearts of indigenes and suppressing potential dissonance wherever it threatened to crop up. Horacio Pietragalla is all too familiar with his government's psychosis; during his early childhood, Argentine authorities slaughtered both of his parents and forced him to move in with a maid. Only in time did Pietragalla discover the truth: the maid in question spent years in service to the general directly responsible for his parents' deaths. The documentary witnesses Horacio embarking on a long quest for his own identity, and - in the process - drawing out the long-unpublicized extent of the horror - the abductions, the rapes and the slaughtering that comprised the living nightmare and plagued his fellow countrymen. In The Disappeared Sanders follows Pietragalla on his quest, and conducts a shattering, devastating series of on-camera interviews with those directly responsible for the war crimes.
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