Distributor: Uncork'd Entertainment
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Director: Anahí Berneri
Starring: Sofía Gala Castiglione, Dante Della Paolera, Dana Basso, Silvina Sabater
2017, Argentina, 82 Minutes, DCP
Language: Spanish with English subtitles
In a portrait both compassionate and harshly naturalistic, director Anahí Berneri’s Alanis tracks a small period of immense significance in the life of a young Buenos Aires mother and sex worker, caring for her toddler son on the fringes of the city. The film, which landed awards for both Berneri and her lead Sofía Gala at the San Sebastián International Film Festival, sees the titular Alanis combat unsympathetic and inconsistently applied prostitution laws, which take away her home and strain her ability to care for her son Dante (Gala’s real-life child). With her newest feature, Bernari has infused stark realism into a genuinely engrossing narrative, resolute in its affront to bureaucracy’s deceptive guise of altruism.
The film’s story is set across a mere handful of days, wherein Alanis’ daily routine is suddenly disrupted only moments after being established. She lives with friend and fellow sex worker Gisela in a small flat, where they alternate shifts of tending to Dante and their respective customers in a seemingly controlled environment. However, when police disguised as hostile Johns force their way into the apartment, that veil of security is lifted, thrusting Gisela into prison and Alanis into the street with Dante in toe. Alanis finds harbor with an aunt, but the struggle to earn in an unfamiliar environment presents new—and newly hazardous—obstacles.
Alanis is a work of immense affect, conjuring the master rhythms of Dardenne-brand realism, while reserving space for the sensitive lensing of Lynne Ramsay’s pre-2000 works. And like those works, Berneri’s film stands amongst the most exciting of international cinema today. (Mitchell Goodrich)
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