LO HERMIDA, Chile (AP) - Inside the community center for this slum where children shiver in the winter chill, dozens of kids are dreaming of flying away. Their pilot is 9-year-old Benjamin Ortega, who tips his hat inside their cardboard plane and calls for takeoff while an old 16-mm projector rolls and clicks, projecting Walt Disney's 1928 classic film "Plane Crazy" on a white sheet.
As the first black-and-white images of Mickey Mouse pop up, they roar with laughter. The 83-year-old woman responsible for their joy smiles faintly, paying no attention to the movie. She's more interested in these starry-eyed kids, who have never walked into a cinema.
Her name is Alicia Vega, a no-nonsense filmmaker who has seen that look during 27 years of workshops. In slum after slum, all across Chile, she has helped thousands of poor children soar by teaching them about the magic of movies.
Film, she says, has a uniquely transformative power.