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Catalina Sandino Morales, Pure and Simple
by Luz Hernandez

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She's on a mission (from God?).

She's on a mission (from God?).
The South American country of Colombia is notorious for its violence and drug-related crime, but some of the lesser-known riches it generously shares with the world include coffee, flowers, emeralds, and gold... not to mention such exotic delicacies as fried ants (yumm!), and a surprising array of talented humans.

Recently, the homeland of Nobel-prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, gyrating gypsy-songbird Shakira, and funnyman John Leguizamo (A.K.A. Sid the Sloth) has introduced a fresh new face to American cinema. It belongs to a girl named Catalina Sandino Moreno, the soft-spoken star of Maria, Full of Grace. If you haven't yet experienced this unexpected treasure, then not only have you passed up the opportunity to catch a rare closeup of Colombian life, but you've also missed out on Moreno's remarkable big-screen debut--a performance that earned her a Best Actress nomination at the 2004 Academy Awards.

But not to worry, because Moreno is just getting warmed up. 2007 brings four separate movie projects (filmed in six different countries!) for the dark-haired beauty, including a starring role in one of the 18 loosely intertwined vignettes of the film Paris, Je T'aime,
tastes like chicken!

tastes like chicken!
and THE leading role in El Corazón de la Tierra, a Spanish film based on historical accounts of Andalusian mines in the 1800s. In The Hottest State, Ethan Hawke's third directorial project (opening today in select theaters), Moreno plays a free-spirited musician who can't make up her mind about love and commitment, and later this year she'll be collaborating with Javier Bardem, Benjamin Bratt, and John Leguizamo in a film that attempts to shine a more positive light on the literary genius of her country: Love in the Time of Cholera.

For those of you who haven't caught on yet, Catalina Sandino Moreno is doing a little more with her acting career than just raking in the dough. Most of the projects she's involved with have some sort of historical, artistic, literary, or political stance, and that's no accident. Moreno's the type of person who actually wants to educate through entertainment--the type who'd want vallenato and cumbia to be as synonymous with Colombia as Cartagena and Pablo Escobar. And to be honest, an occasional taste of educational entertainment can really be a welcome change from the usual buffet of Hollywood monotony... now, pass the fried ants!

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Other Columns
Other columns by Luz Hernandez:

A Battle of Wills: Arnett & Forte Duke It Out

Rai: Indian Warya Princess

Jason Statham: A Job Well Done

When Beauty Prevails

Former First Ladies' Men

All Columns

Luz Hernandez
Luz Hernandez is a devoted movie watcher with a background in creative writing and translation.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Luz Hernandez by clicking here.

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