TRAILER: “Tiempo Suspendido,” One Woman’s Quest to Move On From Argentina’s Dirty War

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Historical memory has been a recurring theme in Latin American cinema over the past few decades. In countries like Argentina and Chile, the traumatic experience of dictatorship and the tragedy of disappeared loved ones has in many cases been compounded by an official government posture of “olvido”, as new, democratic regimes complicate processes of remembrance and healing by simply acting like nothing ever happened. Chilean documentary director Patricio Guzmán’s masterpiece Nostalgia de la luz (Nostalgia for the Light) followed one individual who had spent the better part of her lifetime scouring the remote deserts of northern Chile in search of her disappeared brother as the world around her ostensibly moved on and, eventually, dismissed her as crazy.

But, while fighting for the right to remember has become the life’s mission of many living in Latin America’s post-dictatorial societies, little attention has been paid to that other side of healing: letting go. Argentine-Mexican documentary director Natalia Bruschtein’s first feature, Tiempo Suspendido (Time Suspended), takes her back to her native Argentina to follow the emotional process of an elderly woman, presumably the director’s grandmother, whose own family fell victim to the mass disappearances carried out by the country’s military junta, and spent decades fighting tirelessly for justice and in favor of historical memory. Now, as she enters the final phase in her life, Bruschtein’s subject must balance the need to purge the lingering pain of loss from her heart without betraying the memory of her disappeared loved ones.

It is a complex and deeply human conundrum that Bruschtein seems to approach with a considerable degree of intimacy. The film’s official trailer is broken into two segments that dramatize the elderly woman’s internal conflict: first she reflects poetically on the singular, incomparable pain that accompanies disappearance over the image of a flowing river; in the second segment we meet her in the back of a car as she speaks assertively about the absurdity of living in the past. It is perhaps an appropriate addition to the long filmography on the subject, speaking to a new generational reality, in which the need to finally let go is still complicated by the desire to honor those who have been lost along the way.