Maria Full of Grace

Director: Joshua Marston
Screenwriters: Joshua Marston

Institute History


What constitutes a life of grace? Is it moral piety or exercising goodwill? Or does it spring from acting from one's heart and desires? Joshua Marston's auspicious debut feature, Maria Full of Grace, addresses these questions with inspired honesty and clarity.

Spirited and rebellious Maria Alvarez lives with three generations of her family in a cramped concrete house in a rural town north of Bogotá. She works alongside her neighbors at a hazardous, mind-numbing job stripping thorns from flowers on a rose plantation. Because Maria's paycheck supports the family, she is stuck. But her passion to break out of her limited world drives her to push at its boundaries. When she meets Franklin, a stylish young man, he piques her interest with talk of a cool job that involves travel. However, when Franklin says the word "mule," Maria realizes immediately what he means: swallowing dozens of thumb-sized rubber pellets full of heroin and transporting them to the United States.

Catalina Sandino Moreno gives an exceptional performance as a young woman facing this crossroads with bravery, grit, and yes—grace. Marston demonstrates a fantastic eye for detail and crafts a narrative with disarming rawness and authenticity. Maria Full of Grace is as important a story as it is an impressive directorial debut.

— Shari Frilot

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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