Raising Victor Vargas

Director: Peter Sollett
Year: 2002
Country: USA
Running time: 88 mins
USA
Production co: Untitled Productions
Producers: Peter Sollett, Alain de la Mata, Robin O’Hara, Scott Macaulay
Screenplay: Peter Sollett
Based on a Story by Peter Sollett and Eva Vives
Photography: Tim Orr
Editor: Myron Kerstein
Production designer: Judy Becker
Costume designer: Jill Newell
Sound: Steve Borne
Music: Roy Nathanson, Brad Jones

Cast
Victor Vargas: Victor Rasuk
Judy Ramirez: Judy Marte
Melonie: Melonie Diaz
Grandma: Altagracia Guzman
Nino Vargas: Silvestre Rasuk
Vicki Vargas: Krystal Rodriguez
Harold: Kevin Rivera
Carlos: Wilfree Vasquez
Donna: Donna Maldonado

Festivals: Cannes, Toronto, San Sebastian, London 2002; Sundance, Sydney 2003
This winning New York independent concerns cute, 18-year-old wannabe-macho Victor, his lookalike younger brother and his sullen, overweight younger half-sister. They are being brought up poor on the Lower East Side by their tiny, strait-laced Dominican grandmother, who fears that these basically excellent kids are going to the dogs, and that Victor is a bad influence on the two younger ones. He’s the latest in a family line of hopeless ‘gigolos’, says she, but Victor, who’d like nothing better, isn’t getting to first base with the babe of his dreams. 26-year-old writer/director Peter Sollett’s debut is a pitch-perfect comedy, immensely poignant and funny, and almost unbearably tender in its regard for Victor and the other Vargases. “Victor Vargas has the look and feel of a neo-realist masterpiece, yet captures New York with a burnished authenticity not seen since the glory days of 70s American cinema. (Sorry, Spike.) But it’s the authenticity of the characters, and the skill of the largely nonprofessional cast at letting them come alive, that make the movie such a dazzler.” — Ernest Hardy, LA Weekly

“Toeing a line between high comedy and near tragedy that’s utterly natural throughout… this very small movie is an almost perfectly realized joy.” — Dennis Harvey, San Francisco Bay Guardian