The Dallas Morning News
Thursday, September 25, 2003

Director Robert Rodriguez Honored

By Jane Sumner / The Dallas Morning News

Actor Jimmy Smits presented the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts' 2003 Raul Juliá Award for Excellence to Austin filmmaker Robert Rodríguez on Tuesday night.

In a prepared statement before the ceremony, Mr. Smits said Mr. Rodríguez "seamlessly weaves Latino culture and identity into the American consciousness."

Elizabeth Avellán, Mr. Rodríguez's wife and executive producer, accepted the award on his behalf at the foundation's Noche de Gala fund-raising dinner at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington.

His last two films, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over and Once Upon a Time in Mexico, opened within six weeks of each other and were both No. 1 at the box office.

Founded in 1997, the foundation's mission is to promote a more contemporary portrayal of Latinos and to provide scholarships to graduate students at universities with a pipeline into entertainment.

In 1994 Mr. Julía, a hero of Mr. Rodríguez's, was slated to play a key role in his fantasy action film Desperado, a reworking of his resourceful debut El Mariachi. When the ailing Puerto Rico-born star suffered a stroke and later died

Oct. 24, the company held a moment of respectful silence on the set in Acuna, Mexico.