Bernardo Zupnik Selected as Argentina’s Academy President

Bernardo Zupnik, one of the Argentine film industry’s most senior figures, has been voted in as the president of Argentina’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Cecilia Roth, famed for her performances in early Pedro Almodovar films, will serve as vice-president, and producer-turned-director Juan Vera, who has just debuted behind the camera with Ricardo Darín starrer “An Unexpected Love,” is the Academy’s new second vice-president.

The appointment marks the latest career turn for Zupnik, one of Argentina’s most famous independent distributors who headed for years, along with his daughter Paula Zupnik, Distribution Co., which released many of the largest U.S. independent and Argentine titles, such as 2009 Oscar winner “The Secret in Their Eyes,” which grossed $9.3 million domestically. He has also held public sector positions such as deputy director of the Argentine Film Institute (INCAA).

His appointment comes as INCAA is under increasing fiscal pressure, given inflation and the devaluation of the peso, to get a bang for their buck in terms of investment. Just what criteria should decide if they are doing so well varies widely across the Argentine industry. Zupnik can be expected to appreciate the artistic value of cinema – he’s bought dozens of arthouse films in his time – as well as market imperatives for films to be seen.

One of Zupnik’s most immediate objectives is to broaden and enlarge membership of the Academy, which is roughly half that, at 2,000 members, of Spain’s. Zupnik said he was particularly concerned about welcoming younger members. His team will also be responsible for hosting the Ariel Awards each year, the country’s top film honors.

Zupnik beat out a rival candidacy headed by “Nine Queens” producer Pablo Bossi, long-time TV, film and stage actress Carla Peterson, and “The Clan” actor Peter Lanzani, who also appeared in this year’s box-office record breaker “El Angel.”