February 23, 2009



Here is an eighty minutes long documentary designed as a magnificent tribute to
great writer George Varghese Kakkanadan.

It takes its place among the most meticulously chosen documentaries about the present day malayalam fictioners.







February 10, 2009

Maria Full Of Grace (2004)

Colombia/United States /Spanish/ 101 min.

Writer /Director: Joshua Marston

Starring: Catalina Sandino Moreno, Virginia Ariza,

Yenny Paola Vega, Johanna Andrea Mora
Cinematography Jim Denault
Editing by Anne McCabe,Lee Percy

Winner of the Dramatic Audience Award at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, two major awards at the Berlin Film Festival and six awards at the Cartagena Film Festival, Joshua Marston's Maria Full Of... Winner of the Dramatic Audience Award at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, two major awards at the Berlin Film Festival and six awards at the Cartagena Film Festival, Joshua Marston's Maria Full Of Grace follows a bright, gutsy young woman on a life-changing - and life-threatening - journey. The film sweeps us along on its heroine's unpredictable odyssey from Colombia to New York, weaving a gripping narrative of risk, determination and survival. Confronting crises that test her to the very core, Maria finally emerges at the threshold of a new future, one that will be defined by what she wants rather than what she rejects. Pausing at that threshold, Maria makes her choice and moves forward, carried by her grit and grace. Maria Full of Grace is not a true story, but it is a story that happens every day. Maria Alvarez (Catalina Sandino Moreno) has grown up in a small rural town tucked inside the rolling green-gold hills north of Bogotá. It's a place where three or more generations of a family might share the same house; Maria lives in a modest concrete house with her grandmother, mother, sister and infant nephew. Each morning Maria leaves before dawn to catch the bus that takes her to work in the large industrial rose plantation that lies outside of town. The job is mind-numbingly tedious and strictly regimented. Along with her best friend Blanca (Yenny Paola Vega), Maria spends long days on her feet stripping thorns off flowers and preparing bouquets for export abroad. Sometimes, the weekend brings a party on the plaza that draws almost everyone in town for live music; Maria is determined to dance to every salsa and cumbia, while her boyfriend Juan (Wilson Guerrero) is content to hang on the sidelines, drinking aguardiente. At 17, Maria - bright, spirited, fearless - looks out at a world that would keep her in a small, limited place, and refuses to go along. At home, she clashes frequently with her family, particularly her older sister Diana (Johanna Andrea Mora). Maria's weekly paycheck now goes to care for Diana's baby, and though Maria loves her little nephew, she resents having to shoulder Diana's share of the household finances. At work, Maria resists abiding by a system that rigidly rations everything from bouquet types to bathroom breaks. And she is unwilling to play the pliant girlfriend to Juan, who neither shares nor understands Maria's sense of adventure. Only Blanca seems to appreciate Maria's assertive, rebellious nature; somewhat shy herself, Blanca is usually content to follow Maria's lead. But Maria's nature is about to lead her in a sharply different direction. One day at work, Maria, nauseated, requests permission to go the bathroom. Her supervisor bluntly refuses, and lectures her about her unacceptable lack of work ethic. In the ensuing battle of wills, Maria abruptly quits. Her family is stunned and angry, but Maria refuses to apologize for her impulsive decision, much less reconsider it. However, there is another matter occupying Maria's mind: the secret knowledge that she is pregnant. Juan offers to marry her, but only because that is what he is supposed to do - and to Maria, that is no reason at all. With few local job options, Maria's best lead is a friend who works as a maid in Bogotá. She is on her way to the city when another option presents itself, in the person of Franklin (Jhon Alex Toro), a hip, self-assured young stranger Maria met at a weekend party. With his stylish leather jacket and easy charm, Franklin provides a sharp contrast to Juan and the other boys in Maria's town; he even comes from a different part of Colombia. He knows how to pay a compliment, and he piques Maria's interest with talk of a cool job that involves travel - something Maria has never done. When Franklin says the word "mule," Maria knows immediately what he's talking about: swallowing dozens of thumb-sized rubber pellets full of heroin and transporting them to the United States. Maria has heard about captured mules on the news and is wary, but Franklin, with the air of one who knows, describes those people as fame-seekers who deliberately get caught in order to be on TV. A smart girl like Maria will have no problem. The decisive factor for Maria is the money: up to $5,000 for one trip, an amount that would forever change Maria's life. Putting aside her misgivings, Maria meets her prospective employer, Javier (Jaime Osorio Gómez), a disarmingly paternal man who explains the job in simple terms. Javier insists on giving Maria a little something to help solve her financial problems while she thinks about his offer. Although Javier assures her that his gift has no strings attached, Maria realizes the deal has been sealed. She seeks out and befriends another mule, Lucy (Guilied López), who tells Maria everything she needs to know: how to prepare herself physically, how to dress, how to act - and how if even one pellet breaks inside her, she'll die. Lucy has traveled as a mule twice before, and those jobs appear to have given her an economic independence, with an airy, uncluttered home all to herself. However, when Lucy talks about her trips to New York, she sadly confides that she hadn't the nerve to see her older sister, who lives in Queens. With a fuller understanding of the risks that await her as a mule, Maria is alarmed and angry when Blanca announces that she, too, is going to be a mule. Blanca, however, will not and cannot backtrack; she's already taken the money. Over the course of the next 24 hours, Maria is forced to swallow pellets one by one - 62 in all - while Javier keeps a watchful eye. Boarding the plane the following day, Maria discovers that she is traveling on the same flight as Blanca, Lucy and a fourth mule. It is not the uneventful trip that Franklin had promised. During the flight, Lucy begins to show telltale signs of illness, suggesting that a pellet has opened in her stomach and is slowly poisoning her system. Once in the United States, the situation grows even more precarious as alert Customs officials quickly take the fourth mule into custody. Maria, Blanca and Lucy soon find themselves in a cramped New Jersey motel room, coldly supervised by a pair of young toughs as they begin the humiliating process of expelling the drug capsules. Meanwhile, Lucy's condition is growing worse; Maria does what she can, but the young men are indifferent. When Maria wakes the next morning, the bathroom is covered in blood, and Lucy and the two boys are gone. She grabs Blanca and they flee with the drugs they have transported. In this unfamiliar environment, Maria has only one bit of information to guide her: the name and address of Lucy's sister, Carla (Patricia Rae). Over the next few days, Maria will confront situations that will test her strength, courage and humanity. With only instinct and intelligence to guide her, she emerges with an understanding and grace that will carry her forward into a new life. HBO Films and Fine Line Features present Maria Full of Grace. Written and directed by Joshua Marston, and produced by Paul Mezey. Starring Catalina Sandino Moreno, Yenny Paola Vega, Guilied López, Jhon Alex Toro, and Patricia Rae. The co-producer is Jaime Osorio Gómez, the associate producers are Orlando Tobón and Rodrigo Guerrero, and the line producer is Becky Glupczynski. Ecuadoran production services were provided by Gigia Jaramillo and Pocho Alvarez of Altercine. The director of photography is Jim Denault, the production designers are Monica Marulanda (Colombia) and Debbie De Villa (New York), the editors are Anne McCabe and Lee Percy, A.C.E., and the costume designers are Lauren Press and Sarah Beers. With casting by Ellyn Long Marshall and Maria E. Nelson (New York); and El Barco Producciones, Jorge Valencia, and Maria Eugenia Salazar (Colombia). The composers are Jacobo Lieberman and Leonardo Heiblum, and the music supervisor is Lynn Fainchtein. Maria Full of Grace made its world premiere in Official Competition at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Dramatic Audience Award. It screened at the Berlin International Film Festival where it won the Alfred Bauer Prize for Best First Film and Catalina Sandino Moreno won the Silver Bear for Best Actress. At the Cartagena Film Festival in Colombia it won six prestigious awards - Opera Prima (Best First Film), Mejor Actriz (Best Actress), Mejor Pelicula Colombiana (Best Colombian Film), Premio Especial del Jurado (Special Jury Prize), Premio del Publico (Audience Award) and El Premio de OCLACC (Organization of Catholic Clergy). -