This year was a glorious one for the city's largest film festival. Getting off to a head start last December with the Miami premiere of Julian Schnabel's tour de force, Before Night Falls, the late-February event presented one of the best selections in the eighteen years since its inception. From the riveting French period drama The Widow of St. Pierre to the ambient Chinese study In the Mood for Love,the festival surveyed the best of contemporary trends in cinema. An especially strong Latin-American lineup included Barbet Schroeder's controversial existential meditation Our Lady of the Assassins; Andrucha Waddington's Brazilian feminist romp You, Me, Them; and Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu's brash music-video-style Mexico City epic Amores Perros. In these films, as in the documentaries set in Cuba -- Jane Burnett and Larry Cramer's Spirits of Havana and Uli Gaulke's Havana, Mi Amor -- the music made as strong an impact as the celluloid. The felicitous synching of sight and sound climaxed in the festival anchor and audience-award winner, Fernando Trueba's documentary of Latin jazz, Calle 54. As if Trueba's loving portraits were not magical enough, the festival's after-hours Baileys Club brought the film to life with standout performances by Puntilla, Cachao, and the venerable Bebo Valdés.