Argentina, 1979. After years of exile, Juan (12) and his family come back to Argentina under fake identities. Juan’s parents and his uncle Beto are members of the Montoneros Organization, which is fighting against the Military Junta that rules the country. Because of their political activities they are being tracked down relentlessly, and the threat of capture and even death is constant. However, Juan’s daily life is also full of warmth and humor, and he quickly and easily integrates into his new environment. His friends at school and the girl he has a gigantic crush on, Maria, know him as Ernesto, a name he must not forget, since his family’s survival is at stake. Juan accepts this and follows all of his parents’ rules until one day he is told that they need to move again immediately, and leave his friends and Maria behind without an explanation. This is a story about militancy, undercover life, and love.
Since the day I decided to become a director, I wanted to tell this story. My story. I did not plan to make a biopic, but I wanted to draw upon my childhood memories to make a film about first love taking place during the last military dictatorship of Argentina, between 1976 and 1983. I also wanted to talk about militancy at that time, an unknown universe for many, where fear ran alongside joy, love and passion." Benjamin Avila
"Most coming-of-age movies don’t open with the prepubescent protagonist’s mom and dad getting into a cartoon gunfight in the street—then again, there are lots of unusual touches in Argentine filmmaker Benjamin Ávila’s feature. Blessed with old-school pedigree (producer Luis Puenzo made the Oscar-winner The Official Story) This ’70s-set story of a boy (Teo Gutiérrez Romero) and his exiled revolutionary parents returning home on the sly follows a well-trod path of viewing history through a child’s eyes. But the way the director throws in offbeat elements—animation, a Moonrise Kingdom–ish interlude in the woods, surreal dream sequences—without diluting the Dirty War drama is impressive." David Fear, Time Out New York
"A charming, involving first feature, Clandestine Childhood muscles its familiar coming-of-age material into something more vibrant and urgent than the usual. Through sharp editing and director Benjamín Ávila’s moment-making brio, this ’70s period piece charts a young boy’s attempts to carve out something like a childhood despite being the son of wanted revolutionaries in the Argentina of General Jorge Rafael Videla, whose brutal government "disappeared" millions just like them." Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice