By Lucila Sigal
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Thirty-six years after Argentina and Britain fought a war over the remote Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, an Argentine playwright is bringing veterans from both sides together on stage to reconstruct their experiences.
Lola Arias, who is also a filmmaker, said that despite the differences over the sovereignty of the islands, the play allows audiences and the former soldiers to listen to both sides of the dispute.
Britain won the war, but Argentina still claims the islands, which it calls the Malvinas. During Argentina's two-month war to reclaim the Falklands in 1982, some 255 British troops and about 650 Argentine soldiers were killed.
After five years of work and 70 interviews with veterans from both sides of the conflict, Arias chose six men who would go on to become the main characters in the play "Minefield" and the film "Theatre of War," where they recall their experiences in a scripted play considered documentary theatre.
"Minefield" premiered in Buenos Aires last month and opens in Japan, Italy, Spain and France this month. The movie will be presented at the BFI London Film Festival in October.
"I think that this project can only be done now precisely because those 36 years have passed and there is a perspective that allows us to see the effects of the war because, in reality, both the work and the film are not about the war itself, but about what the war does to people," Arias, 42, told Reuters.
In the film and play, the three Argentine and three British veterans tell their stories, read letters, play in a rock band, recreate painful moments of war, and even attend therapy. The film's final scene depicts an attack, with younger actors playing doubles of the veterans.
"The idea of that ending was so one could really see that what the war took away is youth, innocence and beauty," said Arias.
Although the UK veterans spoke no Spanish and their Argentine counterparts did not speak English, the former soldiers said they understood each other and found they had more in common than differences. The process proved healing, they said.
"What matters the most is being able to tell others that it does not matter if you agree with someone else, you can often do things with people who think differently on some issues," said Gabriel Sagastume, an Argentine veteran and actor.
"For us, the whole process was curative ... We found many things in common."
(Reporting by Lucila Sigal in Buenos Aires; Writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Matthew Lewis)