Anita Is Both Wrenching and Hopeful

The Denver Jewish Film Festival, which ran February 10–20, 2011, always has an intriguing selection of films. The one and only movie I saw this year was Anita, an Argentinian film by director Marcos Carnevale.

Anita‘s star, Alejandra Manzo, is an actress with Down syndrome playing a character with Down syndrome whose mother is the mainstay of her life. When her mother doesn’t return one day after going to the AMIA Jewish Community Center to handle some family matters, Anita wanders the streets of Buenos Aires, finding disregard and compassion in equal doses, and learns to manage a little bit more on her own.

This is not a cheery film, especially at first, when Anita uses her limited communication skills to find help. Some of the early scenes were hard for me to watch. Chance plays a big role in the plot, but what matters most is Anita’s character. People misunderstand her, sometimes willfully, but always come to see her more clearly.

I wanted to see Anita because my niece has Down syndrome; I thought my sister might like to see this movie. When I told her about it, she said lots of people with Down syndrome are getting parts in movies and TV shows.