Contemporary World Cinema

Alanis

Anahí Berneri

Alanis 01

A young Buenos Aires mother and sex worker suffers the hypocrisy of the laws that are supposed to protect her, in this compelling, profoundly political drama about the dismal choices foisted upon vulnerable women.

Argentina's contradictory prostitution laws — which declare prostitution legal but running a brothel illegal — force many women to the street, placing them in precarious situations. Anahí Berneri's latest feature, Alanis, portrays three days in the life of a young mother and sex worker who suffers the hypocrisy of the laws that are supposed to protect her.

Alanis (Sofía Gala Castaglione) lives with her son Dante (Dante Della Paolera) and an older co-worker in a comfortable apartment where she gets help with her baby while attending to clients. When two inspectors posing as clients break into their apartment, arresting Alanis' friend, Alanis finds herself on the street, destitute, without even a diaper for Dante. She seeks help from an aunt who offers her and Dante shelter despite disapproving of Alanis' line of work. But finding clients in the neighbourhood is dangerous, as the streets belong to very territorial Dominican workers.

Through Alanis, Berneri introduces us to some uncomfortable realities: the immigrant women drawn to Buenos Aires by the promise of a better life who instead find themselves working the streets; the female body as both an object of sexual use and a figure of nurturing, maternal ideals. Through the director's compassionate gaze and a brilliantly bold performance by Gala Castaglione with her real-life son Dante, this is both a poignant film about the tenacity of a mother's love and a profoundly political statement about the dismal choices foisted upon vulnerable women.

DIANA SANCHEZ

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