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MANITO

Two Latino brothers--one a scrappy, womanizing ex-con, the other a sensitive youth with dreams of college--struggle to survive on the mean streets and meaner subways of New York City.

CAST: Franky G., Leo Minaya, Jessica Morales, Manuel Cabral, Julissa Lopez, Hector Gonzalez, Panchito Gomez

DIRECTOR: Eric Eason

"Mr. Eason, using a hand-held camera and a largely new or nonprofessional cast, brilliantly captures the pulse of daily life in working-class, immigrant New York…for most of its brief, packed running time, ‘Manito’ has the lilt and momentum — the swing — of a musical performance…The volcanic center of the movie is Junior, and Franky G. has undeniable star power. His acting may be rough and unmodulated at times, but he shows the complexity of Junior's temperament with furious economy… His angry masculine bravado seems edged with panic, just as his brutal impatience is a reflection of his tenderness…His performance anchors the film in an unpretentious realism." --A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"With his striking physical presence, Franky G. attracted attention even in the starry ensembles of ‘Confidence’ and ‘The Italian Job.’ His first film, Eric Eason's beautifully articulated ‘Manito’ -- made before these two movies -- demonstrates that he also has star charisma and enviable emotional reserves as an actor. He also, thankfully, has wit, humor and passion…Eason also elicits an array of riveting portrayals from actors who in some instances are inexperienced but not awkward or self-conscious…The film is suffused with a sense of the fragility of life at the mercy of fate…a small film with a big impact." --Kevin Thomas, The Los Angeles Times

"‘Manito,’ the debut feature from writer- director Eric Eason, proves you don't need a ‘Hulk’-size budget to pack a powerful punch…The engine that drives ‘Manito’ is an intense performance by newcomer Franky G., who used this 2002 Sundance Special Jury Prize winner as a launchpad for a Hollywood career, having since appeared in ‘Confidence’ and ‘The Italian Job’…A leisurely, scene-setting start, peppered with authentic banter and winning localized humor, fleshes out the characters in ‘Manito’ so well you feel as if you live alongside them." --Megan Lehmann, The New York Post

"The young writer-director Eric Eason has a real gift for imparting a documentary feel to staged experience. Despite too much wobbly camerawork and quick, overemphatic cutting, his first feature, ‘Manito,’ starring Franky G. as an ex-con trying to bolster his studious younger brother (Leo Minaya), has an appealing rawness." --Peter Rainer, New York Magazine

"Eason has made a film about family tragedy that sings along on an electrical pulse of energetic editing, convincing naturalism and a confident sense of turf. The streets of his Washington Heights are real and grimy; the histories of his characters are baroque with ghosts…Anger informs Eason's near-documentary style... like bystanders on a platform, we watch life roar by on its own deaf and unstoppable power." --John Anderson, Newsday

"‘Manito’ sees an everyday tragedy with sadness and tenderness, and doesn't force it into the shape of a plot. At the end, the screen goes dark in the same way a short story might end; there isn't one of those final acts where we learn the meaning of it all…Franky G. has had three roles since he finished ‘Manito,’ in big pictures like ‘The Italian Job,’ and we'll hear more of him…The film's flaw, not a crucial one, is in the hand-held camera style. There are times when the camera is too close for comfort, too jerky, too involved." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"A remarkably assured feature debut, Eric Eason's raw, intimate movie deftly captures the kinetic energy of its Washington Heights setting…Toward the finish, the movie takes a regrettable curve into melodrama, but the excellent performances never waver." --Elizabeth Weitzman, The New York Daily News