Argentinian-bornBrazil based director Hector Babenco will start shooting his long-awaited ninthfilm, The Past, on Monday inBuenos Aires.

Based on thebest-selling 551-page novel by Alan Pauls, winner of the prestigious HerraldePrize, The Past centres on acouple who decide to split up after 12 years. While the man, Rimini, played byMexican star Gael Garcia Bernal, moves on, his ex-partner hounds him and theother women in his life.

Babenco co-wrote thescript with Marta Goes and Mariana Chaud and Argentinian theater-author andfilm director Federico Leon.

In a surprise move,after a four-month casting Babenco selected three talented but relativelyunknown local actresses, Anal'a Couceyro (Albertina Carri's The Blonds), Moro Anghileri (Leonado Di Cesare's Buena VistaDelivery) and Ana Celentano (SandraGugliotta's Possible Lives), forthe female leading roles.

Brazilian star BettyFarias (Bye Bye Brazil), hercompatriot Paulo Autran, and Argentinian actors Carlos Portaluppi and ClaudioTolcachir were also cast.

The Past is a $ 4.8m co-production between K & S Films, alocal production company headed by Oscar Kramer and Hugo Sigman, and HB Filmes, Babenco's own company based in Sao Paulo. 20th Century Fox has picked up LatinAmerican rights.

Kramer, who haspreviously co-produced Babenco's Foolish Heart in 1998, told Screendaily The Past will have an intensive 12-week shooting schedule andhe's hoping for a world premiere at 2007 Cannes Film Festival.