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UW-Eau Claire Film Society to Present 'Maria Full of Grace' Oct. 6-9

RELEASED: Sept. 26, 2005

"Maria Full of Grace" posterEAU CLAIRE — The International Film Society will present "Maria Full of Grace" (U.S./Colombia 2004) at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Oct. 6-9. Winner of the Dramatic Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, the film will screen at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday in Davies Theatre.

"Maria Full of Grace" weaves a gripping narrative of risk, determination, survival and redemption as it follows a bright and brave young woman on a life-threatening, life-changing odyssey from Colombia to New York when she accepts a job transporting heroin as a drug "mule."

Seventeen-year-old Maria Alvarez (Oscar-nominee Catalina Sandino Moreno) lives with three generations of her family in a cramped house in rural Columbia and works stripping thorns from flowers in a rose plantation. The offer of a lucrative job involving travel — smuggling drugs to America by swallowing latex-encased pellets of powder — changes the course of her life. Far from the uneventful trip she is promised, the adventure transports Maria into the risky and ruthless world of international drug trafficking.

"Here is a drug movie with no machine guns and no chases," wrote film critic Roger Ebert. "It focuses on its human story, and in Catalina Sandino Moreno, finds a bright-eyed, charismatic actress who engages our sympathy. The story of the making of the movie is remarkable. It was filmed on an indie budget by Joshua Marston, a first-time American director in his 30s, who found Moreno at an audition, cast mostly unknowns, and used real people in some roles… The movie has the freshness and urgency of life actually happening."

"Documentaries have become so chic this season that it's all too easy to forget that sometimes it takes great fiction to tell a certain kind of truth," wrote the Washington Post. "The film unfolds with an urgency and authenticity that many of even its most noble nonfiction contemporaries lack. 'Maria Full of Grace' seems to have been sent from the cinematic heavens to remind viewers of the honesty and sobering realism of which movies are still capable."

The 101-minute film is in Spanish (subtitled) and is rated R for drug content and language. Admission is $2 for International Film Society members and UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff and $1 for UW-Eau Claire students. Tickets are available at the University Service Center, (715) 836-3727, and at the door.

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JS/NW

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