The Chicago-based production company – Iconoclast Films – shot En Algun Lugar in Chicago and Mexico. It has already screened at eleven festivals and has taken home major awards such as Best Foreign Feature and Best Director at the London Independent Film Awards 2018, Best LGBTQ Feature and Best Producer (Aric Jackson) at the Oniros Film Awards in Italy, and it is screening for the second time at the 34th Chicago Latino Film Festival on April 18.
As a Chicagoan, En Algun Lugar is a treat because the film visits neighborhood staples, such as Roscoe’s, Armadillo’s Pillow, St. Michael of Old Town, The Silver Palm, Fleetwood Roller Rink, O’Hare, and the abandoned steel mills of South Chicago.
The bulk of these Chicago scenes consist of a warm, scenic, and fun love story between two men – Abel and Diego (played by Nelson Rodriguez and Andrew Saenz).
However, when Diego learns that a sick relative in Mexico is dying, he reveals his immigration status to Abel. This forces Diego and Abel to test the theme of the film that “love knows no borders.”
Producer/editor Aric Jackson calls the popularity of En Algun Lugar an unfortunate “perfect storm.”
“We want to be relevant, but we don’t want to be this relevant,” says Jackson.
En Algun Lugar is based off of true events from over a decade ago, and writer/director Tadeo Garcia’s script was intended to be “historical” and capture something from the past.
However, the late stages of post-production were in full swing when the presidential election of 2017 took place.
With the country’s current political climate, the abandonment of DACA, the ending of family reunification policies, and numerous efforts to make life more difficult for documented and undocumented immigrants, it became clear in post-production that this story was on the pulse of the times. As Jackson reflects, “art imitates life.”
Numerous changes were made in editing that maintained the original story but tied it into the political climate. For example, a dream sequence was converted into real life, a news-radio show was placed in the background of certain scenes, and the film now opens with lead characters crossing what Jackson calls “the imaginary line” between Mexico and the United States.
Jackson further elaborates that En Algun Lugar “exposes the butterfly effect of people who have to live in the shadows.”
That is another distinct aspect of the film. It convincingly and subtly presents how the lives of American citizens are devastated and impacted by loved ones trapped in the broken immigration system.
When borders keep loved ones away, the pain is excruciating and the impact is widespread. For me, it is personal. I fell in love with my Chilean wife, Catalina, while working on a documentary in Santiago.
When she eventually moved to Chicago, Catalina was unable to visit her dying grandmother or even attend her grandmother’s funeral. Her immigration status was pending and she would not have been allowed back in the United States if she went.
Although En Algun Lugar is a personal film based off of specific events, it is all too familiar to many.
Writer/director Tadeo Garcia emphasizes, “this movie is meant for everyone.”
Beyond immigration, the film is funny and nostalgic, presents a warm romance, and addresses racism.
In fact, one of the most poignant scenes in the film shows one of the characters experiencing prejudice within the LGBTQ community. Garcia felt compelled to create the scene because according to him, it reflects real life.
When getting ready to shoot the scene, actor Mickey O’Sullivan asked Garcia if he should really go that far with the racist dialogue, and Garcia says that he responded with “Mickey. It happens… The only thing you can do is show it. If you put it away, what’s it going to do? It will get worse.”
When asked about why Garcia attempted to tackle so many grand themes in one film, he responded, “I just wanted to pace myself. Just showing a bit of a sliver of what happens says a lot.”
Overall filmed in a realist style, En Algun Lugar is a wildly ambitious film that captures the local spirit of Chicago, the diversity of the LGBTQ community, the vibe of Jalpa, Mexico (the Mexican location), and the oftentimes-devastating impact of immigration policies on individual Americans.
Tadeo Garcia, Aric Jackson, and the team at Iconoclast Films set out to make a historical film that, according to Jackson, “like all filmmakers, we wanted audiences to leave the theater talking and thinking about it for days or weeks.”
They have accomplished just that.
For more information about En Algun Lugar, click here.
For more information about the Chicago International Film Festival and screening times, click here. For a taste of opening night, see below.
REEL CHICAGO VISITS THE CHICAGO LATINO FILM FESTIVAL
Contact Joey Filer at Joey@reelchicago.com or follow him on Twitter @FilerJoey.