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Around the Jewish World Ten Years After Amia Bombing, 10 Short Films Examine Fateful Day

August 19, 2004
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It’s the morning of July 18, 1994: Jaco and Marga, who are planning a trip to Israel to meet their two year-old grandson for the first time, discuss what size T-shirt to bring him. They begin arguing because Jaco wants to eat the sweets Marga is cooking for the family in Israel. They even talk about how to hide their daily quarrels from their daughter, Andrea, when she calls.

Then they leave the building to pick up their plane tickets — but just at that moment, the AMIA Jewish community center next to their house explodes, and Jaco and Marga are among the 85 killed.

These scenes are part of the film “18-J,” which was due to be released in Argentina on Aug. 19. The 107-minute film is distinguished by its heterogeneity: The National Film Institute coordinated the project, which consists of 10 short films of 10 minutes each by different directors, most of them renowned.

Daniel Burman, 31, whose film “A Lost Embrace” won s! everal prizes at the recent Berlin Film Festival, filmed neighbors and employees who lived on Pasteur Street, close to the AMIA building.

Among them, a former AMIA employee reveals his fears about going back to Pasteur Street. And Burman’s last testimony comes from Abel Medina, a boy born on the day of the bombing at a hospital just two blocks from the AMIA.

“My birthdays are different than those of my friends. We do not celebrate. We just remember,” the boy says while the camera shows him at his mother’s tiny shop, receiving a brightly wrapped present from his grandparents.

In some of the other segments, a pair of glasses breaks on a shaking desk; a mother surrounded by neighbors in the northern town of Quebrada de Humahuaca awaits a telephone call to make sure her son in Buenos Aires is alive; teenagers play with a friend’s kipah at a Buenos Aires secondary school before a cloud of dust obscures the frame.

The segment by Carlos Sorin — who has won prizes! at film festivals in Cannes and Venice — is probably one of the less pretentious but more moving. Sorin shows just the faces of the victims, smiling from their family pictures, emphasizing the voids left behind.

The film is receiving support from many companies in Argentina, including free air time for publicity from television stations, newspaper advertising and subway billboards. Some theater owners will also be offering discounted tickets in an effort to boost attendance.

All income from the film will be used to benefit 10 local non-profit organizations such as hospitals, AMIA, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, victims’ relatives groups and a church welfare institution.

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