38th Chicago Latino Film Festival (CLFF) April 21 – May 1, announces the first wave of titles from close to 100 feature and short length films from Latin America, Spain, Portugal and the United States confirmed for the event.
This first round of titles includes two films fresh out of the Sundance Film Festival: Eva Longoria Bastón’s feature documentary La Guerra Civil, about the legendary rivalry between pugilists Julio César Chávez and Oscar de la Hoya, and Juan Pablo González’s Dos Estaciones, winner of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition Special Jury Award for Best Actress for Teresa Sánchez for her performance as the owner of a down but not necessarily out tequila factory. Other highlights in this first wave include: The Bones, the new short from Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña, the directors of the groundbreaking stop-motion animation film The Wolf House; Anita Rocha de Silveira’s spine-chilling Medusa, about a young ultra-conservative Christian woman and member of a masked “vigilante” girl-gang who soon becomes a pariah in her own group; and Gardenia Perfume, Puerto Rican queer artist Macha Colón’s dark comedy about the island’s unique funeral culture and the women around it.
Presented by Corona Extra and produced by the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, the Festival will once again adopt a hybrid format with in-person screenings at the Landmark Century Center, 2828 N. Clark St., several Drive-In presentations at ChiTown Movies Drive-In, 2343 S. Throop St., and with virtual screenings via Eventive accessible to residents of Illinois and the Midwest states of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana.
Opening, Centerpiece and Closing Night selections will be announced in the next couple of weeks; the full lineup will be announced in late March. Tickets go on sale, Monday March 21st.
“We are so happy to be back at the theaters to share these amazing films with Chicago’s movie lovers. There is nothing like that communal experience of watching a film with others and then talking about it with friends over dinner, a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. These titles, as well as the ones we will be announcing in the next couple of weeks, are not only conversation starters but a testament to the will and determination of Latino filmmakers worldwide in these difficult times,” said Pepe Vargas, founder and executive director of the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago.
THE FIRST WAVE FEATURES (FEATURES)
- La Guerra Civil (US/UK; Director: Eva Longoria Bastón): The epic rivalry between iconic boxers Oscar De La Hoya and Julio César Chávez in the 1990s spoke to the cultural divide between Mexican nationals and Mexican-Americans in the United States. La Guerra Civil chronicles how their lives ran in parallel tracks, from the financial struggles their respective families faced and the violence that surrounded them as they were growing up to their most important matches leading up to their eventual face-off in 1996. Using never before seen archival materials, along with in-depth and intimate interviews, actress Eva Longoria Bastón chronicles, in her feature film debut, a battle that became much more than just another boxing match.
- Medusa (Brazil; Director: Anita Rocha de Silveira): Winner of the Noves Visions Award for Best Director at the Sitges Film Festival, Rocha da Silveira’s Dario Argento-inspired genre hybrid follows Mariana, an ultra-conservative young Christian woman who by day devotes herself to her beauty and to singing in the church choir and by night chases down and beats women deemed to be sinful by her masked “vigilante” girl-gang. When Mariana gets her own face slashed during such an attack, she is ostracized by her group and is forced to find work in a clinic catering to long-term comatose patients. With the new job comes an understanding of her own sexuality and internal power, and war against the status quo is declared.
- Aurora (Costa Rica; Director: Paz Fábrega): Paz Fábrega (Viaje) returns to the Chicago Latino Film Festival with this intimate and thoughtful story about unwanted pregnancies, solidarity, and empathy. Luisa, a 40-year-old architect, finds joy in teaching art classes to young students. One day, Luisa comes across 17-year-old Yuliana in the school bathroom after she takes pills to induce an abortion. Her pregnancy is so far advanced that abortion in no longer an option under Costa Rican law, so Luisa decides to help her, turning into a combination of friend, teacher and surrogate mother.
- Dos Estaciones (Mexico: Director: Juan Pablo González): Winner of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition Special Jury Award for Best Actress for Teresa Sánchez at this year’s Sundance Festival, González’s fiction feature debut takes place in his native Atotonilco, Jalisco, where foreign corporations and climate change threaten to wipe away the last vestiges of a homegrown, artisanal industry. Fifty-year-old María García (Sánchez) is the owner of Dos Estaciones, a once majestic tequila factory now threatened by a persistent plague and an unexpected flood. She meets Rafaela, a savvy young woman whose expertise in the business may save María from that foreign competition. However, Dos Estaciones is much more than a story about the travails of the tequila industry; it quietly and subtly explores issues of gender identity and fluidity in a mostly conservative community.
- Gardenia Perfume/Perfume de Gardenias (Puerto Rico; Director: Macha Colón): Queer Afro-Puerto Rican multidisciplinary artist Macha Colón makes her feature filmmaking debut with this idiosyncratic dark comedy about funeral arrangements, old age and facing death with dignity. Isabel (veteran television and stage actress Luz María Rondón in her first movie-starring role) crafts a beautiful custom-made funeral for her beloved husband. The arrangement catches the attention of Toña (Sharon Riley, another acting legend in the island) who, with other women neighbors, takes part in the local funeral scene. She asks Isabel to design custom funerals for their ailing neighbors and Isabel happily embraces her new line of work until Toña makes an unexpected confession.
- Me and the Beasts/Yo y las bestias (Venezuela; Director: Nico Manzano): Manzano’s feature debut (he also shot the film and wrote the songs), tells the rollicking far-out story of Andrés Bravo, a lead singer and guitarist who refuses to play with his band after his band mates agree to perform at a Festival sponsored by the Nicolás Maduro government. Starting a solo career turns out to be tougher than he expected, especially now that many of his friends are leaving the country in search of better opportunities. But just as he is starting to despair, two mysterious beings dressed in yellow from head to toes decide to give him a helping hand.
THE FIRST WAVE: SHORTS
- Neon Phantom/Fantasma neon (Brazil; Director: Leonardo Martinelli): João is an app deliveryman who dreams of having a motorcycle. He was told that everything would be like a musical film. But even in neon, he is still invisible.
- The Bones/Los huesos (Chile; Directors: Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña): From the groundbreaking directors of The Wolf House comes this fictitious account of the world’s first stop-motion animated film. The footage—dated 1901 and excavated in 2021 as Chile is drafting a new Constitution—documents a ritual performed by a girl who uses human corpses to reanimate Diego Portales and Jaime Guzmán, central figures in the construction of authoritarian and oligarchic Chile.
- Alma and Paz/Alma y Paz (Mexico; Director: Cris Gris): Young Alma believes that her late mother’s spirit still inhabits the ranch where she lives with her grandmother. When Paz, Alma’s older half-sister, arrives to sell the ranch, Alma searches for a way to save their home, while being confronted by the truths of growing up. An exploration of the bonds between generations of women in the liminal space between magic and reality.
- Please Hold (USA; Director: KD Dávila): In this Oscar-nominated short set in the not-too-distant future, Mateo is wrongfully arrested due to a computer error. Realizing he has no means of recourse in the fully automated and fully privatized justice system, he desperately attempts to reach an actual human being, who can set things right.
TICKET INFORMATION Chicago Latino Film Festival
Tickets for screenings at the Drive-in (maximum 6 passengers) are: general, $55 per car; ILCC members, $44 per car. All ticketing fees are included in the price. Tickets must be purchased in advance. No in-person sales at the Drive-in.
Tickets to each regular screening at the Landmark Century Center are: $14, general admission; $12 (with valid ID), ILCC members, students and seniors. Festival passes worth 10 admissions for the in-person screenings are: $100 for the general public and $80 for ILCC Members, students and seniors.
Tickets for virtual screenings are $12 for general public and $10 for ILCC members, students and seniors. Festival passes good for 10 films are: $90, general and $75, ILCC members, students and seniors. All ticketing fees are included in the price. Once you have purchased a ticket for your film, you will be able to start watching any time during the watch window. Once you begin watching, you will have 24 hours to finish watching the film.
Tickets go on sale on Monday, March 21 for the 38th Chicago Latino Film Festival. For more information, visit: chicagolatinofilmfestival.org