‘A Twelve-Year Night’ tells the story of the solitary confinement of José Mujica, years before he became president of Uruguay.

Film on former Uruguay Presidents prison life to be screened at IFFKJosé Mujica/ ProtoplasmaKid/ Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 4.0
Flix Film Festival Tuesday, December 04, 2018 - 17:34

‘These guys can’t talk to anyone, nobody can talk to them’. The trailer of A Twelve-Year Night begins with that line and an eerie bit of music, and you see some men being taken somewhere in a vehicle, their heads covered in sacks. It is 1973 Uruguay and three prisoners are taken into their cells for solitary confinement. One of them – José Mujica – would one day become president of Uruguay. It is his real-life story that the film tells, chillingly as you gather from the trailer.

The film has won awards and recognitions – it is Uruguay’s entry for the Oscars for Best Foreign Language film, it premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival, it won the top award at the Cairo Film Festival. And it is going to be screened at the International Film Festival of Kerala, which starts on December 7.

Mujica had joined the Tupamaros movement, an urban guerrilla group that was formed in the 1960s in Uruguay inspired by the Cuban revolution. He was arrested four times, and once gunned down by the police. A surgeon had saved his life then. Twice he escaped from jail by digging a tunnel with others. The last time he was arrested – 1972 – he couldn’t resist. He and two other Tupamaros – Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro and Mauricio Rosencof – were put in solitary confinement. “During the 1970s and 1980s, this included being confined to the bottom of an old, emptied horse-watering trough for more than two years,” according to the Wikipedia page on Mujica.

“You’re not prisoners anymore. You’re hostages,” a military officer tells the prisoners in the film. Mujica is believed to have suffered mental issues during his time in prison. He was freed in 1985 under an amnesty law. In 1994 he was elected deputy and in ’99, senator. He became president in 2010 and stayed in office till 2015. In August this year, he resigned as senator, a position he had held since 2015. A BBC article mentions that the “world’s ‘poorest’ ex-president Mujica turns down pension”. Mujica simply said that he was “tired after a long journey”.

Still from 'A Twelve-Year Night', courtesy: iffk.in

IFFK passes

This time, IFFK is offering special three-day passes for delegates who can’t take part in the whole festival. The fee for this would be Rs 1,000. The full pass comes at a charge of Rs 2,000 this year, in light of the Chalachithra Academy putting the festival up with limited budget following the government’s decision to use the allocated funds for flood relief.

Registration for three-day passes began Tuesday morning. The delegate cell opened on Monday and the passes are available there from 9 am to 7 pm. On-the-spot registrations are also possible.

This time you can also avoid long queues – a familiar feature in every IFFK. Mahesh Panju, secretary of the Chalachitra Academy, said that arrangements have been made to have coupons distributed at every theatre two hours before the screening, according to a press release.

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