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Thompson's Imagining Argentina panned at Venice

Story by: Jack Foley

EMMA Thompson was virtually reduced to tears after her latest film, Imagining Argentina, was panned by critics at the Venice Film Festival.

British director, Christopher Hampton, has helmed the film, which chronicles the 'dirty war' that raged in Argentina during the Seventies, and which mixes magic realism with graphic scenes of torture.

According to reports in several national newspapers, critics booed the film, as well as labelling it a 'disgrace', during a preview screening on the Monday of the festival (September 1, 2003).

But Thompson remained defiant, insisting that the film's subject matter and style was bound to be criticised by some.

She arged that when you're dealing with a subject that is 'as tricky and controversial as state-sponsored terrorism', film-makers are treading a very thin line, particularly when combining it with 'magic realism'.

"Some people are going to have that response," she insisted.

The film attempts to relate the story of 30,000 people who were imprisoned or murdered under the former political regime.

Thompson stars as a journalist who goes missing after writing an article about the country's so-called 'disappeared'.

Thompson, who was visibly upset following the screening, refused to let the reaction get to her, however, insisting that she didn't care because 'we were there and we were working with people who went through these atrocities'.

Hampton also defended the film by arguing that he had attempted to portray the mental opposition of the people to state repression.

He added: "You can't take on a subject like this without being extremely contentious."

The film co-stars Antonio Banderas as Thompson's husband, Carlos Rueda, who directs a children's theatre production. He returns home one day to find his wife has been taken to one of the secret prisons that were exposed by his wife's articles.

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