Anahi Berneri is at the vanguard of a new generation of female directors in Argentina that also includes Lucrecia Martel, Lucia Cedron and Ana Katz. Her debut feature, A Year Without Love (Un Ano Sim Amor) won the Teddy award at the 2005 Berlinale for its depiction of a writer dying of Aids who is searching for a cure, and sold widely around the world. It won plaudits for its sensitive handling of a difficult subject.
Her second film, Encarnacion, is screening in the Visions section of the Toronto International Film Festival and in competition at San Sebastian later this month. It is the story of a B-list actress who returns home to celebrate her niece's birthday and is forced to confront the reasons why she left town, and the people she left behind.
Following the sobriety of A Year Without Love, Berneri admits she was keen to try a different approach with her next film. "Encarnacion is a much lighter and more humorous story," she explains. "But I've tried to avoid nostalgia and not judge the characters."
Former Argentinian TV star Silvia Perez plays the ageing sex symbol in the $800,000 film. It is produced by BD Cine, the production company run by Daniel Burman, himself a blazing star of Argentinian film-making, and Diego Dubcovsky. It has also attracted a slew of international partners including Spain's Wanda Vision, US pay-TV channel Movie City and Venezuela's Venezolana Internacional de Producciones. The Argentinian film institute Incaa has backed the project with Ibermedia Film Fund, and the Rotterdam International Film Festival's CineMart. Bavaria Film International, which worked with Berneri and BC Cine on A Year Without Love, is handling world sales
A graduate of the ORT Institute in Buenos Aires and the Institute National de l'Audiovisuel in Paris, Berneri has worked previously as a casting director, an assistant director, a production manager and an editing assistant. She worked with Daniel Burman, Martin Rejtman and Marco Bechis before shooting A Year Without Love.
"My first feature was warmly received on the gay festival circuit, but Encarnacion is a completely different film written for a different audience," says Berneri. "It's almost like a new debut."
Anahi Berneri's Cultural Life
Films: The Beat That My Heart Skipped by Jacques Audiard
Books: La Mujer Justa by Sandor Marai
Newspapers and magazines: Argentinian daily newspaper Clarin and magazines El Amante and Haciendo Cine
Online: Google, Imdb
Inspirations: The people I know.