ELON — Human rights advocates estimate that as many as 30,000 people were tortured and killed in Argentina from 1976 to 1983 in what was known as The Dirty War.
To this day, some Americans have never heard of it.
Brynne Miller, an Elon University graduate of the Masters of Arts in Interactive Media program in 2010, said her own parents had never heard of the atrocities in Argentina's history.
That is until her father, Dr. C.A. Tuggle, professor and director of the journalism program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), went to Argentina in the summer of 2009 to teach.
"We went down there and lived for five weeks," Miller said in a recent phone interview.
What began as a project for her sister Bethany Parker's broadcast journalism class at UNC turned into a documentary titled "Las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and The Search for Identity." The film includes more than 40 interviews, along with the historical material Miller, Parker and their dad, who served as executive producer, gathered.
"It was just too powerful of a story to break up into two or three two-minute stories," Miller said. "We had that a-ha moment where we decided to do a documentary. We love human interest stories and realized that not many Americans were familiar with this story."
Ninety screenings are planned across the country. The world premiere was Jan. 17 at UNC.
"Four hundred and twenty-five people came to Carolina to see it," Miller said. "We are currently in communication with universities across the country. The trials are going on now so this is in the news even today."
Five hundred women, Miller said, were pregnant or new mothers and in many cases, these babies were taken away and given to supporters of the military.
The documentary, Miller said, "tells the story of a group of women, Las Abuelas (the grandmothers).
Since the kidnappings in the 1970s and '80s, these women have made it their life's mission to find these children, many of whom are now in their 30s."
The film will be screened at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, in McEwen 011 on the Elon University campus. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend. Miller will be there after the screening to answer any questions viewers may have.
"Our main goal is to get the word out about the film and these stories," Miller said. "We will submit it to festivals, of course, but we want to get it in high schools, colleges and universities. We want to educate the public about it. My dad's goal is to have 100 screenings. Right now, we have screenings scheduled in California, New York and Chicago. We're really blessed with the response it's been receiving."
"Las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and the Search for Identity" was a national winner for in-depth reporting by the Society of Professional Journalists; it received a silver world medal from the New York Festivals International Film and Television Award and was a national finalist in the news segment portion of the National Broadcasting Society.
Miller currently lives in Raleigh and owns her own communications agency, Firefly Interactive Media. Her sister lives in Asheville and her parents reside in Durham.
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