El Clan (The Clan)

In Argentina, The Clan caused a sensation. People there still remember well the incredible true events depicted in the film of a seemingly normal well-to-do upper class family who made a business out of kidnapping and torturing members of wealthy families in their own neighborhood and holding them for hefty ransoms.

The horrifying stories struck fear into citizens as the victims were killed after the ransom was paid. Argentina was still struggling to throw off the curse of a dangerous military dictatorship and people could not resolve criminal issues by appealing to the police or government as they were just as likely to be involved in the kidnappings and killings. 

As it turns out, the man responsible for these horrific crimes was a seemingly upstanding citizen and family man, Arquímedes Puccio, a former high ranking official in the government intelligence agency, along with his wife, three sons and two daughters. 

Taking place over the course of four years from 1982 – 1985, The Clan reveals the strange family dynamics of the infamous Puccio clan. Living quietly in San Isidro, a wealthy suburb of Buenos Aires, their father’s illicit activities were a dark family secret that was kept hidden from the outside world.

Their athletic son Alejandro played for the country’s successful Rugby team, and when he wasn’t working in his surfing equipment store he was helping dad to kidnap his next victim. The victims were kept in the basement of the house they lived in, but the family seemed oblivious to what was happening right under their noses.

Argentine actor Guillermo Francella plays Arquímedes, a silver haired, steely eyed fox stalking his prey with a cool obsessive intensity. He has his meticulously planned extortion routine worked out like a pro with years of experience and is careful not to leave anything to chance.

Arquímedes also makes sure his family trusts him and understands the importance of what he’s doing. He makes sure that no one feels uncomfortable, but that doesn’t stop one of his sons from figuring out that daddy is bound to get caught eventually and when he does, it would not be beneficial to be anywhere near him. When he leaves on an overseas school trip he tells his older brother he’s not coming back and that he also better get away soon.

When Alejandro meets a girl that he wants to marry, the family business becomes an obstacle to his plans that can no longer be overlooked. And when a newly elected democratic government comes to power, Arquímedes can no longer rely on the old regime to protect him.

Using the popular music of the time, director Pablo Trapero skillfully edits between brutal kidnapping footage and the outer façade of a happy family life being portrayed to the outside world. It’s a surreal experience that’s as gripping and mesmerizing as it is disturbing.

Well researched, slickly filmed and powerfully performed with surgical insight, this intensely shocking tale has been winning awards at major film festivals around the world, including the Silver Lion for best director at the Venice Film Festival and has been selected as Argentina’s official Oscar entry for this year’s 88th Academy Awards. 


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