The story told in the Argentine Vicenta, a film by Dário Doria, begins in 2006, with the title character discovering that Laura, her youngest and mentally handicapped daughter, had been raped by an uncle and was pregnant. Together with Valeria, the eldest daughter, Vicenta must ensure that Laura can have an abortion. After all, being a child, how could I already be a mother?
The documentary is gaining some momentum now, given that in December 2020 Argentina approved legal and safe abortion for pregnancies up to the 14th week. The decision was won after many years of struggle, and the case “LMR v. Argentine State” contributed to boost it.
The documentary's theme is substantial and urgent, but its format also deserves recognition. The film is entirely made with puppet animation and its story is told by a narrator (Liliana Herrero) who does not address the audience directly; omniscient and omnipresent, she converses with Vicenta instead. With the writing and recording well executed, this element of the film becomes an ace for storytelling and gets around one of the barriers to its character: the fact that its protagonists did not want to appear in it. “How to make this story visible without the two main tools of documentaries, the interview and the direct recording?”, he asked. Amir Labaki, founder and director of the festival It's All True, where the documentary makes its debut in Brazil.
The film follows the entire process of Vicenta, from the discovery of Laura's pregnancy to the labyrinthine process with the State, “the next few weeks will be back and forth in court. For Laura, missing school; for Valeria and for Vicenta to miss work. Go and come back. Back and forth, once and a thousand times.” From the filing of a complaint in 2011 to the UN human rights committee to the act of public redress to the MRL in December 2014.
The response presented read: “The UN Human Rights Committee in April 2011 considers that the State’s lack of diligence in guaranteeing the legal right to a procedure demanded only by women constituted, in the first place, a violation of the right to equality. It considers that the obligation imposed on the MRL to continue her pregnancy constitutes cruel and inhuman treatment”.
With that, the committee concluded that the state should repair Laura, including compensation, and take steps to ensure that violations of this type do not occur in the future. In response, the State should present measures to that effect within 180 days. Finally, in 2014, the reparation arrived, eight years later, and the narrator asks Vicenta: “How long does an uncle's abuse last? And the institutions? How long does a Vincent day last? And a year? And eight?”