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Chicago Latino Film Festival

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The 17th annual Chicago Latino Film Festival, presented by the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, continues Friday through Thursday, April 27 through May 3. Film and video screenings will be at the Biograph, 2433 N. Lincoln; Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton; Metzli Video Cinema, Asociacion Pro Derechos Obreros, 1838 W. 18th St.; Northwestern Univ. Annie May Swift Hall, 1905 Sheridan; Northwestern Univ. Thorne Auditorium, 750 N. Lake Shore Dr.; Richard J. Daley College, 7500 S. Pulaski; the Three Penny, 2424 N. Lincoln; and Univ. of Illinois-Chicago Lecture Center B2, 750 S. Halsted. Tickets for most programs are $9; for students, senior citizens, and disabled persons, $8; and for members of ILCC and the Illinois Arts Alliance, $7. Festival passes, good for ten screenings not including special events, are $70; for ILCC members, $60. For more information call 312-409-1757. Films marked with a 4 are highly recommended.

FRIDAY, APRIL 27

The Ashes of the Volcano

Pedro Perez Rosado follows up his first documentary on the Chiapas revolt in Mexico, Chiapas: The Pain of the Dream, with this 2000 feature presenting a broader portrait of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation. On the same program, Far-Off (2000), an Argentinean short by Leonora Kievsky. 105 min. (Biograph, 6:20)

Blossoms of Fire

An earnest celebration of strong womanhood, Maureen Gosling and Ellen Osborne's 2000 documentary explores the Zapotec town of Juchitan, in southern Mexico, where men and women have been equals since pre-Columbian days. Ethnographic segments about the natives' daily life are bridged by expressive folk songs, though the film digresses to consider colonialism, homosexuality, and the effects of globalization on indigenous cultures. Gosling's schoolmarmish narration betrays the filmmakers' awestruck naivete toward the culture, which they seem to consider some sort of matriarchal utopia. 74 min. (TS) (Northwestern Univ. Annie May Swift Hall, 6:30)

Elementary Queens Segment

Films about young girls by Silvia Munt, Jorges Navas, Albert G. Caballero, and Daniel Davila, whose Things Fall (2000) concerns an aging chess master with Alzheimer's who must be separated from a young student after striking her. 101 min. (Facets Multimedia Center, 6:30)

Bastards in Paradise

A young man whose parents left Chile for Stockholm joins an ethnic gang and gets involved in crime and drugs. Luis Vera directed this 2000 feature. 115 min. (Biograph, 6:40)

Cesar Chavez: The Fight in the Fields

A TV profile of Cesar Chavez, the union organizer who helped establish the United Farmworkers Union. Rick Tejada-Flores and Ray Telles directed. 120 min. (Metzli Video Cinema, 7:00)

Cesar Chavez: The Fight in the Fields

See listing for this date above. (Daley College, 7:00)

Waiting for the Messiah

Two men find their lives transformed after an incident on the Tokyo stock exchange triggers the collapse of a bank in their native Buenos Aires. Daniel Burman directed this 2000 Argentinean feature. 89 min. (Biograph, 7:00)

Taboo in the Flesh and on Film

Short films involving moral and sexual transgression, from Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Chile. 96 min. (Facets Multimedia Center, 8:15)

Once Upon Another Time

Writer-director Juan Pinzas's 2000 drama is the first Spanish feature to be certified by the authors of "Dogma 95," and it adheres religiously to the formula of that Danish cinema manifesto: handheld digicams, natural light, unrehearsed actors, and a story that allows a close-knit but dysfunctional group to vent their spleens. Six friends who studied journalism together reunite for a weekend, pitching tents on the lawn of their host's suburban home and talking sex and career ambitions as they all try to get laid. The jittery and relentless camera work seems almost a caricature of the Dogma technique, and the characters (a manipulative novelist who's unsure of his sexuality, a politician who describes himself as "multiorgiastic," a media celebrity, a token gay, etc) mostly dispense yuppie platitudes. As if their confessions weren't synthetic enough, a narrative frame suggests that the whole thing might have been a dream. 90 min. (TS) On the same program, Nico & Parker (2000, 13 min.), a Uruguayan short by Diego Fernandez and Manolo Nieto. (Biograph, 8:50)

Florentino and the Devil

Michael New directed this 2000 Venezuelan costume drama in which a young street singer falls for the daughter of a wealthy landowner and then faces a vocal duel with Satan. 90 min. (Three Penny, 9:00)

25 Watts

A coming-of-age story about three teenagers in the Uruguayan barrio, set over the course of a single day. Pablo Stoll and Juan Pablo Rebella directed this 2000 feature. 94 min. (Biograph, 9:10)

The Kiss You Gave Me

A Puerto Rican suspense film set in the year 2006, when the island has declared its independence and many citizens are fleeing for the U.S. A TV anchorwoman preoccupied with her career (MariCarmen Aviles) is deserted by her husband, who takes their son to the mainland, and her search for them is complicated by a lawyer whose secret patent is coveted by a telecommunications tycoon. This 2000 feature keeps tripping over its own tangled plot line; director Sonia Fritz seems so confused by the story that she overlooks dialogue referring to 2001 as the present. 90 min. (TS) (Facets Multimedia Center, 9:30)

4 The Ruination of Men

This year the festival honors Mexican director Arturo Ripstein with its lifetime achievement award and a retrospective that includes The Holy Office (1973), Such Is Life (1998), No One Writes to the Colonel (1999), and this 2000 release, an absurdist comedy in black and white, sharply scripted by Paz Alicia Garciadiego, that begins with a peasant being beaten to death by two of his friends. Initially the reasons for this are quite obscure, but the motivations and back story gradually emerge as his friends, his wife, and his lover bicker over his corpse, both at his house and the morgue. This is the most interesting Ripstein feature I've seen, and though it resembles a play in certain respects, it's energized by an able cast and the filmmaker's vigorous mise en scene. A North American premiere. 98 min. (JR) (Biograph, 9:30)

Natural Behavior

A Japanese woman abandoned in a Spanish village by her male companion strikes up a friendship with an 11-year-old girl who's being raised by two brothers at a cattle ranch in the mountains. Vicente Perez Herrero directed this 1999 feature. On the same program, News to Manuela on the Death of Bolivar (2000), a Bolivian short by Jose Sanchez-H. 88 min. (Biograph, 11:00)

76-89-03

Three young boys in Argentina grow up worshiping a supermodel TV personality, and at a bachelor party for one of them, they discover that the object of their fantasies has become a high-class hooker. Directed by Cristian Bernard and Flavio Nardini. 85 min. (Biograph, 11:20)

SATURDAY, APRIL 28

A World Further Away

George Moura's documentary, produced by the Discovery Channel, retraces the Langsdorff expedition of the 1820s, an epic journey across Brazil to study the country's flora, fauna, and indigenous peoples. 112 min. (Daley College, 2:00)

The Prisoners of Buñuel

Land Without Bread (1932), Luis Buñuel's only documentary, examines the hopeless living conditions of an impoverished village in western Spain; Ramon Gieling's 73-minute Dutch documentary The Prisoners of Buñuel (2000) reveals what the village's people think of the film 60-odd years later, and while it's hardly the last word on Buñuel, it does offer a thoughtful and provocative reflection on the intricate cross-purposes of life and art--not to mention accuracy and truth. One can't necessarily believe everything the villagers say about the film, especially because some of them contradict one another. But conversely, to take Buñuel's masterpiece entirely at face value would be to misread it: it's a metaphysical statement more than anything else, and its offscreen narration mocks the touristic documentary in countless ways. It's impossible to evaluate The Prisoners of Buñuel adequately if you haven't seen Land Without Bread, and Gieling, who jokingly draws attention to the way portions of his own documentary are staged, seems well aware of the problem. (Several extracts appear when he screens the film in the village square, but hardly enough to allow for any final verdict.) (JR) (Biograph, 3:50)

Sentence for Life

In Arturo Ripstein's 1978 Mexican feature, an ex-convict trying to go straight falls victim to a dirty cop's extortion scheme. 95 min. (Biograph, 4:00)

Little Guys

Short films about children, from Mexico, Brazil, and the U.S. 91 min. (Facets Multimedia Center, 4:30)

On a Moonlit Shadow

Ana (a pretty but dull Arcelia Ramirez) has been semicomatose since the murder of her husband, Andres (played with almost unbearable machismo by Jorge Sanz), so her father, a wealthy plantation owner, takes her to visit his childhood home in Russia. Through a series of flashbacks director Sergio Olhovich tells the story of Ana's pulp romance (complete with sunset walks on the beach and tortured lovemaking in thunderstorms), though the attraction between her and Andres is never clear (apparently he loves her because she once angrily dropped a flowerpot on his head). The beautiful Russian landscape and zippy Latin music fail to redeem this meandering soap opera of a woman who's happy to be powerless. 110 min. (Jennifer Vanasco) (Biograph, 5:00)

April Captains

Maria de Madeiros (Pulp Fiction) stars in and directed this 2000 drama about the Revolution of the Carnations, which toppled the Portuguese dictatorship in 1974. 124 min. (Biograph, 6:00)

Taboo in the Flesh and on Film

See listing for Friday, April 27. (Facets Multimedia Center, 6:00)

Two for Tea

A successful young novelist in Spain (Nuria Prims) who writes thinly veiled accounts of her hedonistic social circle is jolted from a defiantly carefree love life by an Indian immigrant (Zack Qureshi) whose persistence as a suitor is matched only by his devotion to Islam. Writer-director Isabel Gardela resists the obvious drama of clashing cultures, focusing instead on the couple's growing ambivalence about their motives in the relationship. Her nuanced approach to the material is enhanced by the leads, who evince a perfect blend of self-righteousness, vulnerability, and genuine affection. 93 min. (Reece Pendleton) (Biograph, 6:20)

Rotten From the Inside

Two documentaries about U.S. involvement in Latin America. Enemies of War (57 min.) is a relatively routine TV documentary about El Salvador's long civil war and the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests and two members of their household. Director Esther Cassidy shows how much of the country's wealth was controlled by a small oligarchy tied to the military, but the video breaks little new ground and her repeated shots of the victims are inappropriate. Typical of her visual imagination is a comment about a United Nations report that's illustrated by a shot of the UN Secretariat Building. (FC) On the same program, Father Roy: Inside the School of the Assassins (60 min.), Robert Richter's video documentary about the priest-activist campaigning for closure of the infamous U.S. Army School of the Americas (now the Defense Institute for Hemispheric Security Cooperation). (Daley College, 7:00)

Van Van: Let's Party

Liliana Mazure and Aaron Vega's 2000 video documentary about Los Van Van opens with an orgy of self-congratulation, as the popular Cuban salsa band celebrates its 30th anniversary at a huge open-air concert in Havana, and ends much the same way, as the members bring home their first Grammy a few months later. Sandwiched in between is a fairly interesting portrait of an ensemble that began in a spirit of musical rebellion, mixing traditional son music with elements of rock and jazz, but now has to reckon with its own history as Juan Formell, the graying bassist who founded the group, brings in younger blood. Mario "Mayito" Rivera recalls the rough ride fans and band members alike gave him when he joined as a vocalist, and Formell's son, Samuel, describes the challenge of replacing legendary percussionist Jose Luis "Changuito" Quintana, who quit to concentrate on teaching and solo work. The video makers also document the band's October 1999 trip to Miami, where it was denounced by anti-Castro protesters, but don't seem to know what to do with the issue and drop it after soliciting the usual platitudes about music being the universal language. As the title suggests, this is a story about rhythm, not revolution. 85 min. (J.R. Jones) (Biograph, 7:30)

Three Nations, One Game: Baseball

Mario Diaz's Viva Cepeda! is the stronger of these two baseball documentaries, largely because of the complex, colorful, cross-cultural life led by its subject, Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda. His father was the best ballplayer in Puerto Rico, but racism barred him from the U.S. major leagues; when Cepeda encountered bigotry as a rookie for the San Francisco Giants his father urged him to stick it out. A reluctant retiree, Cepeda was jailed for marijuana possession but then rebuilt his life with a new home, a new wife, and a new religion (Buddhism). In Greener Grass: Cuba, Baseball, and the United States, Aaron Woolf tells an equally fascinating story (Cubans have been playing the game almost as long as we have) but never really integrates its multiple threads, dutifully structuring the video around two 1999 games between a Cuban team and the Baltimore Orioles. Contrary to the prevailing wisdom that public television is a haven for lefties, Woolf accuses Castro of making the game "political" while omitting footage of the Cuban team celebrating a lopsided victory over the Orioles. 95 min. (FC) (Facets Multimedia Center, 8:15)

A Love of Borges

An Argentinean drama about magical realist writer Jorge Luis Borges, set during the unhappy period when he worked as a librarian in Buenos Aires. Javier Torre directed. 92 min. (Biograph, 8:50)

Dark Angel

During a drunken graduation party, a young woman disappears, and ten years later her friends begin to die mysteriously. Jorge Olguin makes his directorial debut with this 2000 Chilean horror film. 90 min. (Three Penny, 9:00)

Diastole and Sistole

Harold Trompetero's 2000 Colombian comedy presents 35 vignettes in which young people wrestle with sexual and relationship issues. On the same program, Two (2000), a Spanish short by Fernando Trullols. 95 min. (Biograph, 9:10)

Blossoms of Fire

See listing for Friday, April 27. (Facets Multimedia Center, 9:45)

A Brave New Land

Spain and Portugal's colonization of Brazil in the 18th century is the setting for this 2000 Brazilian drama about a naturalist who falls in love with a native Guaicuru woman. Lucia Murat directed. 103 min. (Biograph, 10:00)

It Happened in Havana

A thief masquerading as a literature professor in Cuba plots a jewel heist but then falls for the daughter of a former cop. Daniel Diaz Torres directed this 2000 feature, a Cuban-Spanish-German coproduction. 107 min. (Biograph, 11:00)

Red Ink

A young writer becomes the crime editor for a Peruvian scandal sheet and clashes with his cynical and troubled boss in this 2000 feature by Francisco Lombardi. 121 min. (Biograph, 11:00)

SUNDAY, APRIL 29

The Sweat of the Nightingale

A young Romanian cellist travels to Spain in hopes of winning a post at a conservatory but finds himself learning the law of the street in this 2000 feature film debut by writer-director Juan Manuel Cotelo. 115 min. (Biograph, 3:50)

Such Is Life

Arturo Ripstein directed this 2000 drama about a woman whose husband takes the kids, moves in with the daughter of their landlord, and has his wife evicted. 98 min. (Biograph, 5:00)

Once Upon Another Time

See listing for Friday, April 27. (Biograph, 4:10)

Blossoms of Fire

See listing for Friday, April 27. (Facets Multimedia Center, 4:30)

The Ashes of the Volcano

See listing for Friday, April 27. (Biograph, 6:20)

25 Watts

See listing for Friday, April 27. (Biograph, 6:40)

The Kiss You Gave Me

See listing for Friday, April 27. (Facets Multimedia Center, 7:00)

Nuts for Love

Two Argentinean teenagers fall in love at a rock concert despite their differing backgrounds and spend the next 25 years periodically rekindling their affair and then returning to their prior obligations. As director Alberto Lecchi hints on occasion, their on-again-off-again romance parallels the relationship between Argentineans and democracy, but politics is never pushed to the foreground in this 2000 drama, a Spanish-Argentinean coproduction. This is that rare romance that rings true by avoiding both false sweetness and excessive pathos; in their stubborn, tentative relations with one another, actors Gaston Pauls and Ariadna Gil seem completely genuine. 103 min. (TS) (Biograph, 7:00)

On a Moonlit Shadow

See listing for Saturday, April 28. (Biograph, 8:50)

35 Caliber

Three Colombian friends unable to win backing for a feature film talk each other into robbing a bank and model their heist after those in Hollywood thrillers. Directed and shot by Raul Garcia, this 2000 release is short on logic and long on adrenaline, a compendium of postmodern visual tics ranging from jittery camera work to weird angles to high-contrast film stock. The climactic bank job is exciting; otherwise this is a dazzling but ultimately empty-headed trip. With Robinson Diaz and Juanita Acosta. 108 min. (TS) (Three Penny, 9:00)

Three Nations, One Game: Baseball

See listing for Saturday, April 28. (Facets Multimedia Center, 9:00)

Terminal

A young man who's been jilted by his girlfriend goes over the edge and holds her captive on an island. Jorge Echeverri directed this 2000 feature from Colombia. On the same program, Seven Coffees in One Week (1999), a Spanish short by Juana Macias Alba. 101 min. (Biograph, 9:10)

I Didn't Know Tururu

Erstwhile sexpot Florinda Bolkan (A Brief Vacation), a fixture in European TV movies, directed and stars in this 2000 drama about four sisters reunited on their family estate in the sumptuous Brazilian tropics for the wedding of the oldest. Dressed in fashionable couture, they bare their souls to one another, unloading an impressive collection of quirks, insecurities, thwarted desires, and middle-aged angst, and finally pin their troubles on their emotionally distant mother. Bolkan wrings enough nuance from each of the veteran actresses to distinguish them from models, yet the posh mansion, the lush photography, and the sprightly music all contribute to the feel of a slick travelogue, an impression driven home by the final tableau of couples in summer white dancing on a hilltop. 97 min. (TS) (Biograph, 9:15)

MONDAY, APRIL 30

Tender Emotions

In My American Girls: A Dominican Story (2000), Aaron Matthews profiles the Ortizes, a family of immigrants in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The parents toil as hospital custodians, the eldest daughter studies at Columbia University, and the youngest daughter is friendly and socially active. Matthews needn't have cornered them in the middle of a family crisis, but he seems to present only the most positive moments (careful preparations for a graduation party, happy evenings at home, family outings never clouded by sibling rivalry). At the end we know little more about them and the challenges they face than we knew at the beginning. On the same program, short films from Chile and Mexico. 77 min. (Jack Helbig) (Univ. of Illinois-Chicago, 10:00 am)

Dreams in Half of the World

Carlos Naranjo Estrella directed this 1998 Ecuadoran film, a triptych of short narratives. In one a young piano teacher is victimized by sexual innuendo in a small town, and in the second a professor has visions of a woman haunting the Guggenheim Museum. 97 min. (Biograph, 6:20)

April Captains

See listing for Saturday, April 28. (Biograph, 6:40)

Friends Have Reasons

Three friends in their 30s find their long-standing relationship unraveling after one of them asks the other two for a loan to keep his business afloat. Gerardo Herrero directed this 2000 Spanish feature. 93 min. (Biograph, 7:00)

Little Guys

See listing for Saturday, April 28. (Facets Multimedia Center, 7:00)

A Love of Borges

See listing for Saturday, April 28. (Biograph, 8:50)

A Brave New Land

See listing for Saturday, April 28. (Three Penny, 9:00)

Chamon

Roger Mudd narrates this 2000 profile of a young Spanish bullfighter on his way to stardom. Directed by Christian Winter. 88 min. (Facets Multimedia Center, 9:00)

Dark Angel

See listing for Saturday, April 28. (Biograph, 9:10)

Anita Takes Another Chance

After three decades working the ticket window of a Barcelona movie house, a romantic middle-aged widow (Rosa Maria Sarda) loses her job when the theater is torn down but then winds up having a fling with a married construction worker who's building a multiplex in its place. This 2000 comedy by Ventura Pons (Beloved/Friend) manages to be both wistful and celebratory; Sarda spices up her drab daily routine with cinematic fantasies, yet in her comments to the camera she fully recognizes the predicaments of aging. She's an extremely likable actor, and under Pons's observant direction she captures the radiance and the weariness of a late bloomer. 90 min. (TS) On the same program, Free Hands (2000, 19 min.), a Chilean short by Tomas Wells. (Biograph, 9:30)

TUESDAY, MAY 1

Cesar Chavez: The Fight in the Fields

See listing for Friday, April 27. (Univ. of Illinois-Chicago, 11:00 am)

Sentence for Life

See listing for Saturday, April 28. (Biograph, 6:20)

Two for Tea

See listing for Saturday, April 28. (Biograph, 6:40)

Nuts for Love

See listing for Sunday, April 29. (Biograph, 7:00)

The Scent of Light and Shadow

Short films from Cuba, Mexico, Chile, and the U.S. 90 min. (Facets Multimedia Center, 7:00)

Only for Today

A verite-style look at five young friends sharing an apartment in a grungy section of Buenos Aires and working low-level jobs that clash with their creative aspirations (2000). The latest lost generation, they brood over life's small disappointments, too young to be disillusioned but too old to ignore the future. Director Ariel Rotter heads a crew made entirely of film students from Argentina's Universidad del Cine, and though she seems to have trouble weaving together all the film's narrative strands, she has a wonderful feel for the desultory tempo of life on the urban fringe, adopting the jittery camera, snazzy optical effects, and jagged music of Hong Kong's poet of romantic languor, Wong Kar-wai. 100 min. (TS) (Biograph, 8:50)

Manuela Saenz

This handsomely mounted 1999 biopic rehabilitates Manuela Saenz, the intelligent and heroic woman whose adulterous affair with Latin American revolutionary Simon Bolivar was long condemned by the Catholic Church. Basing much of the film on Saenz's letters, director Diego Risquez re-creates the pivotal events of her life in the early 19th century, framing the story with a visit paid to her by Herman Melville in 1841, when the crippled and aging woman lived in a port city of northern Peru. At times Risquez's approach to the material smacks of gothic romance; as played by Beatriz Valdez, the title character sometimes comes across as a buxom party girl driven by lust. Yet her exploits against the rule of Spain are fascinating, and her resilience, even in the loneliness of exile, is remarkably compelling. 97 min. (TS) (Three Penny, 9:00)

Red Ink

See listing for Saturday, April 28. (Facets Multimedia Center, 9:00)

I Didn't Know Tururu

See listing for Sunday, April 29. (Biograph, 9:10)

The Sentimental Teaser

Winner of the Audience Choice award at last year's festival, this 1999 Chilean comedy uses a radio call-in show to tell three stories of romantic intrigue. Christian Galaz Garcia directed. On the same program, No Support (1998), a short animation from Mexico. 94 min. (Biograph, 9:30)

WEDNESDAY, MAY 2

Cesar Chavez: The Fight in the Fields

See listing for Friday, April 27. (Univ. of Illinois-Chicago, 11:00 am)

Friends Have Reasons

See listing for Monday, April 30. (Biograph, 6:20)

Manuela Saenz

See listing for Tuesday, May 1. (Biograph, 6:40)

Chamon

See listing for Monday, April 30. (Facets Multimedia Center, 7:00)

Waiting for the Messiah

See listing for Friday, April 27. (Biograph, 7:00)

Coronation

An aging bachelor (Julio Jung) becomes obsessed with a poor city girl he's hired to look after his grandmother on their decaying estate. After enduring his jealous rages as well as the grandmother's senile outbursts, the girl (Adela Secall) brings the situation to a head by facilitating a robbery at the mansion, orchestrated by her boyfriend and his nefarious older brother. Based on a novel by Jose Donoso, this 2000 Chilean feature struggles to integrate too many things--a study of loneliness in old age, a tragedy of unrequited love, an indictment of class distinctions--before collapsing into lugubrious melodrama. Directed by Silvio Caiozzi. 140 min. (Reece Pendleton) Tickets for this closing-night screening are $15. (Northwestern Univ. Thorne Auditorium, 8:00)

Only for Today

See listing for Tuesday, May 1. (Biograph, 8:50)

The Scent of Light and Shadow

See listing for Tuesday, May 1. (Facets Multimedia Center, 9:00)

Terminal

See listing for Sunday, April 29. (Three Penny, 9:00)

Anita Takes Another Chance

See listing for Monday, April 30. (Biograph, 9:10)

Van Van: Let's Party

See listing for Saturday, April 28. (Biograph, 9:30)

THURSDAY, MAY 3

To Be Announced

Encore screenings of audience favorites; for information call 312-409-1757. (Biograph, 6:00, 6:40, and 8:30)

The Sentimental Teaser

See listing for Tuesday, May 1. (Biograph, 6:20)

To Be Announced

Encore screenings of audience favorites; for information call 312-409-1757. (Facets Multimedia Center, 7:00 and 9:00)

The Holy Office

Arturo Ripstein's 1973 historical drama, set in 16th-century Mexico, focuses on a Dominican friar converted from Judaism who discovers that members of his family are still practicing their old religion and betrays them to the Inquisition. 130 min. (Three Penny, 9:00)

The Prisoners of Buñuel

See listing for Saturday, April 28. (Biograph, 9:10)

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