The 38th Chicago Latino Film Festival announced today the winners and runners-up for its Audience Choice Awards.
The slate of 50 features and 36 shorts from Latin America, Spain, Portugal and the United States, included an array of premieres, stories of underrepresented communities, and an increase in LGBTQIA+ films. Even though the festival is a non-competitive festival, since 1993 the public has had the opportunity to vote for their favorite film in several categories for the Audience Choice Award.
The Audience Choice Award for Best Fiction Feature went to Mighty Victoria, Mexican director of photography Raúl Román’s feature directorial debut about a small town in the middle of nowhere that defies the odds and builds their own steam train.
The Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary went to La Guerra Civil, Eva Longoria Bastón’s first feature about the epic rivalry between legendary boxers Julio César Chávez and Oscar de la Hoya.
Judith Corro won the Audience Choice Award for Best Short for Birthday Boy, about an 18-year-old who stands true to his identity as a trans man as he prepares to celebrate his birthday.
Presented by Corona Extra and produced by the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, the Chicago Latino Film Festival, which took place April 21-May 1st, adopted a hybrid model of Drive-In screenings at Chi-Town Movies, 2342 S. Throop, in-person screenings at the Landmark Century Center, 2828 N. Clark St., and online screenings to residents of Illinois and, with some exceptions, the Midwest states of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana through Eventive’s virtual platform.
The slate of 50 features and 36 shorts from Latin America, Spain, Portugal and the United States, included two World Premieres, five North American premieres, ten U.S. premieres and ten Midwest premieres. Even though CLFF is a non-competitive festival, since 1993 the public has had the opportunity to vote for their favorite film in several categories for the Audience Choice Award.
“It gave us so much joy to see so many familiar and new faces at the theater, to hear their laughter, their applause, and to listen to their questions in the post-screening Q&As with our visiting filmmakers or to their conversations outside the theater. The Chicago Latino Film Festival has played a key role in introducing the new voices of Iberoamerican cinema to Chicago movie lovers and to see audiences embrace and support these artists validates our role as a festival”, said Pepe Vargas, Executive Director of the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, and founder of the Chicago Latino Film Festival.
AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARDS
The winners and runners-up of the 38th Chicago Latino Film Festival Audience Choice Awards are:
- Feature/Winner: Mighty Victoria / Poderoso Victoria (México; Director: Raúl Ramón): With an all-star cast that includes Damián Alcázar, Joaquín Cosío, Adal Ramones, Luis Felipe Tovar and Édgar Vivar (El Chavo del Ocho), Raúl Ramón’s ambitious feature debut centers around the small town of La Esperanza in the 1930s which is facing financial ruin after the closure of the local mine is announced. To add insult to injury, the residents have also received news that they will also lose the train stop that connected them to the city. But master train engineer and mechanic Don Federico (Alcázar) won’t sit idly by and with some help begin to build a steam train.
- Second Place: Bye Bye Chicago (USA; Directors: Roma Díaz and Enrique Gaona, Jr.): The Chicago-based Mexican playwright and director Roma Díaz (founder of the Tecolote Theater Company) makes his fiction feature debut alongside Enrique Gaona, Jr. with this compassionate, deeply moving tale about the friendship between an aging, dying Mexican immigrant and a young Colombian college student. Miguel left Mexico at a young age, giving up his passion for music and singing. Now he is alone, without family, friends or money. Dalia, the college student, and neighbor, lends more than a sympathetic ear to his anecdotes and reflections; she encourages him to reconnect with friends and family as he faces death.
- Third Place: My Girlfriend Is the Revolution / Mi novia es la revolución (México; Director: Marcelino Islas Hernández): Mexico 1994: presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio is assassinated at a political rally in Tijuana and a separatist group calling itself The Zapatistas led by a charismatic pipe-smoking masked man emerges from Chiapas. It’s also the year Sofía will turn fifteen and she hates the idea of having a quinceañera. She has moved to a new neighborhood and is bored out of her wits until she meets the rebellious Eva. Marcelino Islas Hernández’s rambunctious and charming coming-of-age story about finding love, enduring heartbreak, and doing mischief is both a love letter to and a stunning acting showcase for his daughter Sofía Islas.
- Documentary/Winner: La Guerra Civil (USA/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.
- Second Place: Songs That Flood the River / Canciones que inundan el río (Colombia; Director: Germán Arango Rengón): Oneida was still a child when she learned the Afro-Colombian tradition of singing “alabados” to accompany the dead on their journey to purgatory. Her town became the site of what is known as the Bojayá Massacre which took place in 2002 after a cylinder bomb launched by the guerrilla group FARC against the paramilitaries landed on a church full of civilians. Director Germán Arango Rengón paints an inspiring and deeply spiritual portrait of a woman who is healing the deep wounds of a region pummeled by violence through her singing.
- Third Place: 130 Children / 130 hermanos (Costa Rica/Chile; Director: Ainara Aparici): Over the span of their long marriage, Melba and Víctor adopted over 130 orphaned or abandoned children, caring for them as if they were their own. This documentary follows them and the more than 30 children they currently care for as they go about their daily lives, from sunrise when they all wake up and get ready to go to school to sundown. Their life is one of organized chaos, where the oldest children serve as big brothers to new, teary-eyed arrivals while they prepare to face a new life as young adults outside this household.
- Shorts/Winner: Birthday Boy / Vuelta al sol (Panamá; Director: Judith Corro): It’s César’s birthday and his parents want him to wear clothes that make him feel uncomfortable. He is confronted by a decision: continue complying with his family’s expectations, or live true to his identity as a trans man.
- Second Place: Prairie Flowers / Flores de llanura (México; Director: Mariana Rivera): After Silvia’s femicide, her cousin Yecenia, one of the Ñomndaa weavers from the Prairie of Flowers, creates a ritual of poetic mourning alongside other weaving women. Through this ritual, threads, dreams, and their craft are collectively woven together as an act of healing and resilience.
- Third Place: Yagán Lessons / Twakana Yagán (Argentina; Director: Rodrigo Tenuta): In Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego resides the Yagán Paiakoala community, descendents of the first people who inhabited the southernmost islands of South America. Two brothers speak, teach, and remember the Yagán language and the songs of their grandfather as they ride their horses through the harsh landscape on a journey of ancestral reflection.