Resort to honor filmmaker who put it in the spotlight

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico -- Puerto Vallarta was first put on the map, at least in terms of tourism, by a movie called "The Night of the Iguana" filmed here and in Acapulco in 1963. And the destination hasn't forgotten its roots.

Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the film, and Puerto Vallarta is planning to do even more to trade on its identification with the movie.

Recently, Cine-Club Vallarta and the Cultural Department of Puerto Vallarta announced they would host "An Homage to John Huston," the director who brought "The Night of the Iguana" to the screen.

Slated for Nov. 22 to 29, the event will honor the memory of a man who also spent much of his personal time in Puerto Vallarta, including most of the final years of his life.

Screenings of films from Huston's archives will be shown every night during the week-long celebration, accompanied by a brief lecture in both English and Spanish about Huston's life, career and connection to Puerto Vallarta.

All events are free and open to the public.

The opening night screening will feature "The Maltese Falcon," which marked Huston's directorial debut in 1941.

On Nov. 29, the celebration will conclude with a screening of the 1982 American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award ceremony for Huston.

All events will take place at the new cultural center on Rio Cuale island, near a statue of John Huston.

At least one local resort is playing up its connection to the director.

La Jolla de Mismaloya, which is set amid the scenery used in "The Night of the Iguana," has a restaurant where the sets were located (the restaurant appropriately is called The Sets of the Night of the Iguana) as well as another venue called John Huston's Restaurant.

According to local tourism authorities, the resort is to announce special events and travel packages to celebrate the film's 40th anniversary in 2004.

For information about the film festival, call (011) 52-322 222-3593 or visit www.puertovallartafilm.com. -- M.C.

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