I'd been warned there would be lots of blood, but it was still very shocking. Then here's another one, and another one - it's like a machine, and the workers were like robots, not talking to each other, just killing, killing, killing. Her biography reads like a version - albeit a comfortable, middle-class one - of El Norte, the celebrated movie about the long journey of Latino immigrants to the US. With the benefits of such success, she says, came a growing sense of responsibility to stick with what she calls "socially powerful" cinema. When Marston came knocking at her door, she was training to be an advertising executive; her biggest ambition in life was to "be put on a campaign selling spoons". The only exceptions have been a five-minute segment of the portmanteau movie Paris, Je T'Aime, directed by the Brazilian Walter Salles, and the forthcoming period piece Heart of the Earth by the Spanish director Antonio Cuadri. Although since Maria she has become one of the foremost Latin-American actors of her generation, almost all the movies she has appeared in have been directed by North American film-makers, including the soon-to-be-released The Hottest State, a romance directed by Ethan Hawke. There are so many intelligent film-makers working in Latin America, in Colombia. Her upbringing in a family of doctors and her education in a British school means she is at home in her present neighbourhood, Manhattan's upper east side, as she is back home in Bogota. She went along with the movie, she said, simply because she thought it would be a "fun ride", never expecting it to go beyond a limited release on pay TV. Her pale face is splattered red and her eyes are dilated with an expression of deep shock. Like Maria, Fast Food Nation focuses on the irresistible lure of the great power to the north for Hispanic immigrants who are seeking to build a new life, and who are prepared to take terrible risks to do so. When we showed the movie in New York a lot of people who came were Colombians wanting to remember back home - it was so great to be in the theatre surrounded by people from Bogota, Cali, Medellin, Pereira. She burst into view in - grabbing an Oscar nomination for best actress as she did so - in her first movie, Maria Full of Grace, in which she played a Colombian drug mule to the United States. Then their limbs are hacked off one by one, and they are skinned. In response she insists that she still harbours ambitions to make films in Spanish and with top Latin-American directors. With Fast Food Nation, Heart of the Earth, the Hottest State and Love in the Time of Cholera all to be released in quick succession, the one-time advertising trainee from Bogota is going to be much in view this year.