Chicago Latino Film Fest links a spectrum of cinema by language
BY BILL STAMETS April 10, 2013 8:04PM
29th CHICAGO LATINO
When: Through April 25
Where: 600 N. Michigan and River East
Tickets: $11; students, disabled, seniors and AARP members, $10; festival pass (12 admissions), $100, $80 for ILCCC members, students, seniors and disabled
Info: (312) 431-1330, LatinoCulturalCenter.org
Updated: May 13, 2013 6:09AM
Now in its 29th year, the Chicago Latino Film Festival spotlights a spectrum of world cinema linked by language and geography. More than 100 titles come from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Portugal, Spain and United States. Many dramas are rooted in political history; for instance, “Cinco de Mayo: The Battle” is set in 1862 Mexico, and “Maydays” was shot in part at the NATO protests last year in Chicago.
The two-week festival screens features and shorts at the AMC Loews Theaters at 600 N. Michigan, with a few special events at the nearby AMC River East 21. Cuban actor and director Jorge Perugorria from “Strawberry and Chocolate” will receive the fest’s Gloria Award at the Night of Argentina Gala on April 19.
The festival is produced by the International Latino Cultural Center, a pan-Latino, nonprofit, multidisciplinary arts organization dedicated to developing, promoting and increasing awareness of Latino cultures among Latinos and other communities. A grant from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences funds free screenings at six area colleges and the Marcus Theaters in Elgin.
Selected features are listed below. Films in Spanish, Portuguese and indigenous languages will be screened with English subtitles.
7:45 p.m., “Dust” (Guatemala): Troops killing peasants in 1982 inspires this Guatemala/Spain/Chile/Germany co-production directed by Julio Hernandez Cordon. A documentary film crew interviews the suicidal son of one of “The Disappeared.” Juan (Agustin Ortiz Perez) punishes the son of the informer who doomed his father. With an acute reference to Pablo Picasso’s 1937 painting “Guernica,” this highly recommended film revisits trauma via fireworks and a buried bike. Also, 6:45 p.m. Sunday.
10 p.m., “Ulises Morales” (Chile): The title character, who founds a civic movement called “Conscience and Responsibility,” scolds and shakes down drunk drivers, bus fare cheaters, taggers, shoplifters and child-porn buyers. His gotcha videos go viral. Filmmaker Victor Cubillos satirizes this vigilante as a moral sociopath. This remake of a 2004 German film, though, hypocritically shames a shamer by using the same medium. Also, 4 p.m Sunday.
3 p.m., “Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth” (Guatemala): Eric Black and Frauke Sandig — “like archeologists from another century” — earlier filmed the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall. They bring a similar focus to this artfully holistic look at six Mayans who register the impact of gold miners and genetically modified agribusiness on their cyclic 5125-year “cosmovision.” Also, 3 p.m. April 21.
4:30 p.m., “The Passion of Michelangelo” (Chile): Visions of the Virgin Mary prop up the Pinochet regime in Esteban Larraín’s drama based on an actual incident. “She told me I’m her son, like Jesus,” claims 14-year-old Miguel Angel. Pilgrims and vendors flock to Penablanca in this luminously filmed drama about faith and fascist fakery. Also, 6:30 p.m. Monday.
6 p.m., “The Devil’s Hole” (Dominican Republic): The worst film in the fest I’ve previewed so far is this horror exercise set during Holy Week. College kids are trapped in a house cursed since 1937, when grisly acts of political torture occurred there. Director Francisco Disla Ferreira risks self-parody with his overplayed music cliches. Also, 7:45 p.m. Monday.
7:45 p.m., “The World Is Ours” (Spain): Two goofs costumed as hooded penitents botch a bank job on Good Friday. Cue a procession to the shrine of the Most Holy Virgin of Extreme Sorrow. A suicide bomber seeking TV time is but one of the characters in Alfonso Sanchez’s manic minor comedy with timely economic issues. Also, 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
10:15 p.m., “A Long Journey” (Brazil): Onetime political prisoner Lucia Murat — “I wanted to be Angela Davis” — interprets her brother’s spiral into mental illness through his letters from 1969 to 1978. His international hippie itinerary nicely documents the era’s quest for higher consciousness. Also, 8:15 p.m. Wednesday.
8:30 p.m., “7 Boxes” (Paraguay): Co-directors Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schembori adopt a visually adventurous style to track Victor and his wheelbarrow through Municipal Market No. 4 in Asuncion. A butchershop hires the teen to haul seven crates off the premises and then return them. The unusual errand hides a kidnapping gone bad. After an all-night chase with shots fired, Victor will realize his fantasy of seeing himself on TV. Also, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
8:30 p.m., “White Elephant” (Argentina): In the unfinished shell of a hospital started in 1937, a Belgian-born “slum priest” (played by Jeremie Renier from “In Bruges”) fights for new housing. Drug gangs and police raids lead to an outlandish shootout in this earnest tale that that cites both Argentine socialist Alfredo Palacios and Marxist priest Father Carlos Mujica. Also, 9:45 p.m. April 19.
8:45 p.m., “Peru Sabe: Cuisine as an Agent of Social Change” (Peru ): Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio escorts Spanish chef Ferran Adria on a tour of his country’s markets, eateries and culinary schools. Director Jesus M. Santos may not achieve his sociological agenda, but this is irresistible propaganda for a cuisine that looks like it tastes great. Also, 6 p.m. April 25.
9 p.m., “Tlatelolco, Summer of 68” (Mexico): Carlos Bolado directs a period love story about a working-class architecture student and an upper-class photographer. His brother is a cop, her father is a politico; both repress student protesters in Mexico City before the 1968 Summer Olympics. Archival imagery deftly frames a tragic melodrama. Also, 7:30 p.m. April 20.
Bill Stamets is a Chicago-based free-lance reviewer and writer.