Olympic Garage

Olympic Garage

DVD cover
Directed by Marco Bechis
Produced by Amedeo Pagani
Marco Bechis
Enrique Piñeyro
Eric Heumann
Written by Marco Bechis
Lara Fremder
Collaborating writer:
Caterina Giargia
Starring Antonella Costa
Carlos Echevarría
Enrique Piñeyro
Music by Jacques Lederlin
Cinematography Ramiro Civita
Edited by Jacopo Quadri
Distributed by Istituto Luce
Aqua Films
Release dates
  • May 16, 1999 (1999-05-16) (France)
  • September 2, 1999 (1999-09-02) (Argentina)
Running time
98 minutes
Country Argentina
Language Spanish
Budget $3,000,000

Olympic Garage (Spanish: Garage Olimpo) is a 1999 Argentine drama film, directed by Marco Bechis.

The film was produced by Marco Bechis, Enrique Piñeyro (from Argentina), Amedeo Pagani (Italy), and Eric Heumann (France). Executive producers Daniel Burman and Diego Dubcovsky.

The picture is about a young politically active Argentine woman who is kidnapped by the military during Argentina's Dirty War in the late 1970s. She is taken to a torture center called Garage Olimpo in the middle of Buenos Aires.


The film tells of Maria (Antonella Costa), a political activist in an Argentine organization that is fighting the oppressive military dictatorship during the Dirty War.

She also teaches reading and writing in the suburbs of Buenos Aires in a blighted area.

She lives in a decrepit rooming house with her mother Diane (Dominique Sanda), who rents out some rooms. One of the lodgers is a young man named Felix (Carlos Echevarría), who's in love with Maria, and rather shy.

Felix seems to have come from nowhere and is supposed to work as a watchman in a garage. One morning, Maria is kidnapped by a military squad in civilian clothes in front of her mother and is taken to the garage Olimpo, one of the many well-known torture places in the middle of Buenos Aires, which operate to the general indifference of the local citizens.

As soon as Maria is captured the film's mood becomes uncomfortable and the atmosphere is minimalist.

Tigre, who's the head of the center (Enrique Piñeyro), appoints Felix, their best torturer, to make Maria talk.

Yet, Felix is overcome by his feelings for Maria, and Maria is determined to exploit the situation with Felix for her survival.



Main article: Dirty War

The film is based on the real political events that took place in Argentina after Jorge Rafael Videla's reactionary military junta assumed power on March 24, 1976. During the junta's rule: the parliament was suspended, unions, political parties and provincial governments were banned, and in what became known as the Dirty War between 9,000 and 30,000 people deemed left-wing "subversives" disappeared from society.[1]

As the country celebrated its win of the World Cup, many political activists were tortured in Buenos Aires and then later taken on "death flights." Victims were drugged and then dropped alive into the Atlantic Ocean from military aircraft.

Chilean born director Marco Bechis was a victim of the country's military regime and was forced to leave Argentina in 1977, at the age of 20, for political reasons.[2]


The film was first presented at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival on May 16 in the Un Certain Regard section.[3] It opened wide in Argentina on September 2, 1999.

The film was screened at various film festivals, including: the Toronto International Film Festival, Canada; the Huelva Latin American Film Festival, Spain; the Norwegian International Film Festival, Norway; the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, New York City; the Amnesty International Film Festival, Netherlands; and others.


Critical response

Stephen Holden, film critic for The New York Times, wrote the film is "notable on the international front...a not-for-the-squeamish film from Argentina about an opponent of the military dictatorship who is tortured in a garage in the heart of Buenos Aires."[4]

Critic Jonathan Hollander liked the directorial lead of Marco Bechis, and wrote, "Garage Olimpo is the kind of valuable cultural product that symbolises political regeneration...himself a victim of the country's regime – he was forced to leave Argentina in 1977, at the age of 20, for political reasons – director Marco Bechis has the necessary moral authority to make this film."[5]

Michael Thomson, writing for the BBC, lauded the film and the passion of director Marco Bechis, and wrote, "It is director Marco Bechis' softly-softly approach which fills each frame with real power and leaves you in no doubt as to his commitment and passion. It is indeed no surprise to learn that this Italian-Chilean was himself snatched by the military in Buenos Aires and tortured. Yet, despite his admirable insistence on moving us with the truth (helped by his grainy camera work), Bechis can also tell a tale and he gradually incorporates a race-against-time element. Will Maria escape, especially when she is taken out on the town by her captor? Let's just say that the answer would be alien to Hollywood."[6]





  1. The Vanished Gallery.
  2. Hollander, Jonathan. FilmFestivals.com, reporting from the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.
  3. "Festival de Cannes: Olympic Garage". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
  4. Holden, Stephen. The New York Times, "No Fluff, No Gimmickry In These Searing Stories," June 16, 2000.
  5. Hollander, Jonathan. Ibid.
  6. Thomson, Michael. BBC – Film Reviews, September 19, 2000. Last accessed: January 3, 2008.
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