Maria Full of Grace
Winter 2005 Main series
Sunday, January 30, 2005 at 4:00pm
Sunday, January 30, 2005 at 7:00pm
Monday, January 31, 2005 at 7:00pm
Monday, January 31, 2005 at 9:30pm
Rated 14A ·
Winner of the Dramatic Audience Award at the 2004 Sundance 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 Alvarez (Catalina Sandino Moreno) has grown up in a small rural town tucked inside the rolling green-gold hills north of Bogotá. Her 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. At 17, bright, spirited, and fearless, she looks out at a world of limits and refuses to go along. At home, she clashes frequently with her family; at work, she 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 her boyfriend Juan, who neither shares nor understands Maria’s sense of adventure. But Maria’s nature is about to lead her in a sharply different direction. Quitting her job following a battle of wills with her supervisor, Maria discovers 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 is on her way to Bogotá when another option presents itself, in the person of Franklin (Jhon Alex Toro), a hip, self-assured young stranger Maria meets at a weekend party. He piques Maria’s interest with talk of a cool job that involves travel — something Maria has never done. 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. A smart girl like Maria will have no problem, says Franklin. The money, up to $5,000 for one trip, could forever change Maria’s life.
Putting aside her misgivings, Maria agrees to take the job, and unexpected problems leave her alone in the United States with her friend Blanca, who has also become a drug mule. 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.
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. Maria Full of Grace is not a true story, but it is a story that happens every day.