Screened as part of NZIFF 2003

Raising Victor Vargas 2002

Directed by Peter Sollett

USA In English
88 minutes 35mm



Peter Sollett
Alain de la Mata
Robin O’Hara
Scott Macaulay


Peter Sollett. Based on a Story by Peter Sollett and Eva Vives


Tim Orr


Myron Kerstein


Roy Nathanson
Brad Jones


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


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. — BG

“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