Child of the Disappeared

Maria Waite is dying and has little time left to come to terms with a tragic past and to find the child that was stolen from her at birth.

Buenos Aires, 1982: at a military compound, MARIA (20) and others who oppose the military government are imprisoned. Maria, who is 8 months pregnant, goes into earl labor and her baby is taken away. Maria suffers complications and is left for dead.

In the present, Maria (60s) lives in Seattle with her husband, DAN WAITE (mid 60s), but is still haunted by the memories of her time in prison and the baby she never got to know. Having beaten cancer once, Maria has a recurrence but hesitates to start her treatment. She is visited by a friend, SARA PACKARD (mid 40s), a journalist, who encourages Maria to fight for her life.

Sarah asks for Maria’s help on a story about the “Dirty War” in Argentina. Maria refuses. Sarah reveals that she’s discovered a file on Maria’s husband, JAVIER DE QUINTO, who was “disappeared” during the Dirty War. Though initially shocked and angry, Maria is impressed with how quickly Sarah found Javier and asks Sarah to help her find her child.

Sarah soon finds a source in Buenos Aires, LEOPOLDO MASSERA (70s), who investigates crimes during the Dirty War. Maria returns to Argentina to meet Leopoldo. Leopoldo reveals that female prisoners’ children were given to military families to be brought up as “proper citizens.” He also says he has found Maria’s son, JUAN CRUZ, (40s), but refuses to give her Juan’s address until the investigation is finished.

Ignoring Leopoldo’s warning, Maria looks Juan up and discovers his address. She approaches him on the pretext of asking for directions. The exchange is noticed Juan’s father, RAMON (70s).

Dan follows Maria to Buenos Aires. Maria tells him about Juan; Dan also warns her to be careful. Despite this, Maria decides to talk to Ramon and his wife, MAGDELENA (late 60s). Ramon explains that he and Magdelena were told Juan’s mother died in childbirth, and any attempt to find out more was met with threats. Ramon agrees to let Maia meet Juan.

Leopoldo set up a meeting between Maria and Juan. They tell him the truth, but Juan refuses to believe it. Maria is devastated. Later, Juan confronts Leopoldo, but agrees to a DNA test. It is revealed that Leopoldo was a soldier during the Dirty War – in fact, he was the captain of the group that arrested Javier and Maria – and he is now trying to redeem himself. He asks Juan not to reveal this to Maria.

Just hours before Maria’s flight back to the US, Leopoldo tells her that she and Juan have the same blood type, but the DNA test will take longer. However, Maria has known instinctively that Juan is her son and is content. She also tells Leopoldo that she knows who he is and forgives him for what he’s done.

Maria and Dan prepare to return home. Juan goes to the airport to see them off – he is still distant but willing to build a relationship. Maria finally confesses that she is dying.

Sometime later, Maria passes away. Juan is present at her funeral, finally having gotten to know his birth mother. Maria leaves behind a legacy – Dan give Juan a collection of Maria’s personal photos, and her interview with Sarah is aired, detailing her experiences during the Dirty War.

Script Excerpt
Written by:
Author Bio:
Michael honorably served in the United States armed forces and recently retired from the aerospace industry. He has an undergraduate degree in Government and Politics. He has written multiple award-winning screenplays with several more at various stages of development. Currently writes full-time.

Contest Results:
Swedish International (First Place) [2022]
The Monthly Film Fest (TMFF) (First Place) [2022]
Script Studio (Finalist) [2022]
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