Like all good film festivals, one joy of the 10th Annual Hispanic Film Festival at Augustana College will be discovering a wonderful movie you haven't heard much (or anything) about. It also doubles as a sampler of world cinema, showing the breadth and quality of Hispanic movies, which rarely penetrate the American market but can nonetheless be fascinating as cultural studies and breathtaking examples of filmmaking outside of the dominating American studio system.

The five-week series, featuring free screenings of a different movie at 7 p.m. Wednesdays in the college's Sciences Building Auditorium, starts January 14 and includes some familiar titles. Julie Taymor's 2002 bio-pic of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo will be shown February 4, and last year's acclaimed Raising Victor Vargas will be shown January 21. The other three films are less familiar to American audiences, but they look to be a diverse and strong lot.

En el Tiempo de las Mariposas (In the Time of the Butteflies), January 14: This 2001 film stars Salma Hayek and Marc Anthony and dramatizes the resistance to Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo (played by Edward James Olmos). Based on a true story and the novel by Julia Alvarez, the film (directed by Mariano Barroso) has been praised for the human face it puts on political tyranny.

La Crianza de Victor Vargas (Raising Victor Vargas), January 21: Peter Sollett and his cast and crew have nabbed a handful of nominations for the 2004 Independent Spirit Awards for this movie, including for acting, directing, writing, and best feature. Sollett employed amateur actors for this story of a 16-year-old who fancies himself a ladies' man. As he goes after the prettiest girl in his New York City neighborhood, he learns some valuable lessons and starts to win her heart. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called it "a coming-of-age movie that really nails it," and it was one of the best-reviewed movies of 2003.

Abril Despedaçado (Behind the Sun), January 28: From the acclaimed writer and director of Central Station comes a movie that the Los Angeles Times called "a rewarding parable on the futility of revenge and the redemptive power of self-sacrificing love." The film tells the story of a young man torn between the obligations of an ancestral feud and the promise of a new life. gushed: "As a story about two warring families, it is poignant, beautifully shot, and powerful. As an allegory reflecting on the cycles of violence that threaten all of our futures, it is absolutely necessary."

Frida, February 4: Nominated for six Oscars and winning two (for makeup and score), Julie Taymor's film biography of the Mexican art icon Frida Kahlo takes a painterly approach, using the medium as a reflection of its subject's art. Salma Hayek produced and starred in the movie, and she earned Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress. The Denver Rocky Mountain News called it "grand-scale moviemaking for a larger-than-life figure."

Intacto, February 11: This visually arresting mind-bender from Spain shows that foreign films don't have to be edifying ethnographies. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's fantasy-tinged film concerns a group of gamblers who have the power to steal luck from others. They recruit a plane-crash survivor they believe has the same power and test his skills. Max von Sydow stars as a rival, and the Philadelphia Inquirer called the movie "intriguing, provocative stuff."

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