HOW FAR WILL SHE GO BEFORE SHE’S GONE TOO FAR?
Pregnant, Colombian 17-year-old Maria Alvarez (Catalina Sandino Moreno) agrees to become a drug mule, swallows 62 pellets of cocaine and boards a plane bound for New York City. It may seem incomprehensible why anyone would do such a dangerous and stupid thing as smuggling drugs in one’s stomach, but the filmmakers show us how hopeless life in a small Colombian village may seem to a teenager. It comes as no surprise that the journey to America turns south for Maria and her fellow mules. The story and its moments of real-life horrors are straight-forwardly told and the film benefits immensely from Moreno’s performance as the naive Maria.
2004-U.S.-Colombia. 101 min. Produced by Paul Mezey. Written and directed by Joshua Marston. Cast: Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Alvarez), Wilson Guerrero (Juan), Yenny Paola Vega (Blanca), Jhon Álex Toro, Jaime Osorio Gómez, Guilied López.
Berlin: Best Actress (Moreno).
Last word: “I got the idea for the film, spent a year working on the script, traveled and did more research. I had showed it to producers, who said things like, ‘Couldn’t they all speak English?’ or ‘Couldn’t Maria have a nanny that taught her English and they could practice their English?’ I had someone else who wanted to get either Penélope Cruz or Jennifer Lopez for Maria. They just didn’t get what I wanted to do. My roommate’s boyfriend ran into Paul Mezey [the film’s producer], a former fellow student who had mixed the sound on a student film of mine, on a train, and struck up a conversation. Bless his heart, he said, ‘My girlfriend’s roommate has a script you might want to read.’ So I sent it to Paul, and he read it in a week. Paul took it to HBO; HBO told Paul to just make it. In Spanish. With a first-time filmmaker. With an unknown cast.” (Marston, Filmmaker Magazine)