CHICAGO (March 1, 2021) – The 37th Chicago Latino Film Festival, April 8-18, today announces the first wave of titles from the 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 include 499, Rodrigo Reyes’ spellbinding hybrid of fiction and documentary that looks at the legacy of Spain’s conquest of Mexico 500 years ago from the perspective of a conquistador stuck in 21st Century Mexico; Ariel Winograd’s Inside Man-like bank robbery film, The Heist of the Century, starring Diego Peretti and Guillermo Francella (The Secret in Their Eyes); directly from Sundance, Iuli Gerbase’s critically acclaimed, almost prophetic feature debut The Pink Cloud about a couple forced to shelter in place; the U.S. premiere of La Verónica, starring Mariana Di Girolamo (Ema) as a woman who will do everything in her powers to become a social media influencer; and Rosa’s Wedding, the new comedy from Icíar Bollaín (whose last film, Yuli, won the Festival’s Audience Choice Award for Best Fiction Feature two years ago) about a woman who decides to marry herself.
Presented by Corona Extra and produced by the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, the Festival will be presented online with the exception of Opening and Closing Nights. The Festival will once again be working with Eventive’s virtual platform and its online program will be available to residents of Illinois and, with some exceptions, the Midwest states of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. Opening and Closing Night selections will be announced in the next couple of weeks; the full lineup will be announced in late March. Opening and Closing Nights will be held at a Chicago Drive-In (ChiTown Movies Drive-In, 2343 S. Throop St), following all state and municipal health regulations. The full program will be announced at the end of March.
“If there is a lesson, we can all learn from this pandemic is that the arts, especially film, are essential to our wellbeing. These ten films, as well as our entire program, explore our complex humanity as they connect us to other cultures and other ways of seeing the world. Some of them even provide us a deep sense of joy just when we need it the most,” said Pepe Vargas, founder and executive director of the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago.
THE FIRST WAVE
- 499 (Mexico; Director: Rodrigo Reyes): To commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico, Rodrigo Reyes (“Purgatorio”) has created a bold blend of fiction and documentary to explore the continuing legacy of colonialism in his country. A Spanish conquistador has arrived in 21st Century Mexico and begins to follow the same route taken by Hernán Cortez, encountering and engaging with a cross-section of contemporary Mexican society, from migrants to activists and mothers who have lost their children to the country’s violence. Shot in widescreen (“499” won Best Photography at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival), Reyes has crafted a spellbinding dialogue between past and present.
- Ambush/Emboscada (Mexico; Director: René Herrera Guerra): Frank (Ramón Medina from the soap opera “El señor de los cielos”) rents rooms in Nadine’s building for his illicit activities. Nadine is fine with looking the other way as long as she is not directly involved. But when the body of a man he killed a couple of days ago and the merchandise that man carried inside go missing, Frank and his henchmen begin a room by room search of the building with Nadine in tow. But then, the tenants start dropping like flies. Is a killer hidden among them? Herrera Guerra’s debut film is a tense and entertaining crime thriller with a twist that will leave audiences gasping for air.
- Contactee/Contactado (Peru/Brazil/Venezuela/Norway; Director: Marité Ugás): Years ago, under the name of Aldemar, Aldo used to preach about earthquakes opening portals in the sea and our connection to extraterrestrials. Today, he makes a meager living from the rent he collects from his tenants and as a tour guide at an archaeological site. Gabriel, a young follower, has tracked him down to convince him to return to preaching. Reluctant at first, Aldo succumbs to his vanity to learn too late that the student has surpassed the teacher. “Contactee” is an intriguing portrait of belief, spirituality and gullibility.
- Dirty River (Costa Rica; Director: Gustavo Fallas): Víctor has lived by himself, tending to his cows, in the mountains of Costa Rica for decades. He believes his neighbors have ordered their one indigenous employee to spy on him and that they have stolen his favorite cow. His 12-year-old grandson has been sent by his mother to live with Víctor just as the old man’s paranoia and hatred has worsened. News of a fugitive hiding in the mountains adds to the tension as well as Víctor’s growing blindness. Gustavo Falla’s follow-up to “Puerto Padre” (an official selection of the 30th Chicago Latino Film Festival) is a low-key, fog-shrouded, unsettling portrait of a man quickly succumbing to his prejudices and demons.
- Fruits of Labor (USA; Director: Emily Cohen Ibañez): Ashley Solis is a Mexican-American teenager who dreams of graduating from high school, but when increased ICE raids in her community threaten to separate her family she is forced to become their breadwinner. She works long days in the strawberry fields and the night shift at a food processing factory. “Fruits of Labor” is a coming of age story about an American teenager traversing the seen and unseen forces that keep her family trapped in poverty and a lyrical meditation on nature and ancestral forces.
- The Heist of the Century/El robo del siglo (Argentina; Director: Ariel Winograd): In his first heist comedy since 2013’s To Fool a Thief (Vino para robar), Ariel Winograd recreates what is considered to be the most famous and audacious bank robbery in Argentina’s history. Co-written by the mastermind of the 2006 robbery of a suburban branch of Banco Río, Fernando Araujo (played by frequent Winograd accomplice, Diego Peretti), the film reenacts its planning, execution and aftermath…although not necessarily in that order. Featuring another charismatic performance from Guillermo Francella (The Secret in Their Eyes, Heart of Lion) as Araujo’s partner-in-crime, The Heist of the Century is a wild and thrilling ride in the vein of Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean films.
- La Verónica (Chile; Director: Leonardo Medel): Verónica is the ultimate social media influencer…or so she thinks. Married to a famous soccer player, her ambition is to secure a multimillion-dollar contract as a spokesperson for a major brand. And nothing, not even a murder investigation or a baby, will get in her way of securing those two million Instagram followers she needs. Mariana di Girolamo follows her groundbreaking performance in Pablo Larraín’s “Ema” with another incendiary, obsessive and even subversive piece of acting, Pedro García’s camera keeping her front and center as if the entire film was a selfie. “La Verónica” is a take-no-prisoners critique of our “attention economy.”
- Landfall (Puerto Rico/USA; Director: Cecilia Aldarondo): Set against the backdrop of the 2019 protests that led to the resignation of then-governor Ricardo Rosselló, Cecilia Aldarondo’s poignant documentary explores the impact both Puerto Rico’s debt crisis and the 2017 one-two punch of Hurricanes Irma and María had on the island. She visits the spots hardest hit by María and talks to farmers, activists, community and student leaders and families. She also shows a new kind of vulture flying over the island: technocrats and crypto evangelists who see in Puerto Rico a treasure to be plundered. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize in the Viewfinders Competition at last year’s DOC NYC, “Landfall” is a powerful and essential contribution to the conversation about the future of one of the last colonies of the world.
- The Night of the Beast/La noche de la bestia (Colombia/Mexico; Director: Mauricio Leiva-Cock): On February 28, 2008, thousands of fans packed the Simón Bolívar Park in Bogotá for heavy metal icon Iron Maiden’s first concert in Colombia. Best friends and metalheads Chuki and Vargas have scored tickets for that historical concert. As they wait for the concert to start, they engage on a series of adventures in the city until tragedy strikes: their tickets are stolen. How will they get into the heavily guarded arena? Mauricio Leiva-Cock’s charming feature debut is a breath of fresh air in Colombian cinema: a simple, exuberant tale of two young men who just want to rock on.
- Rosa’s Wedding/La boda de Rosa (Spain/France; Director: Icíar Bollaín): Actress Candela Peña and director Icíar Bollaín join forces once again in this delightful comedy about a woman who finally learns to say no. About to turn 45, Rosa has spent her whole life trying to please everyone: her employers, her family, her friends, her neighbors, etc. The time has come for her to take charge. She returns to the coastal town of her childhood to open a business and to get married to the one person who truly deserves some love: herself. Nominated to eight Goyas (including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress), Bollaín’s new film shares with her recent politically engaged films a deep humanism…and it’s also laugh-out loud funny.
Tickets for virtual screenings are $12 for general public and $10 for ILCC members, students and seniors. Festival passes good for 10 films are: $100, general and $80, 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 8.
For more information, visit: chicagolatinofilmfestival.org
Sponsors of the 37th Chicago Latino Film Festival so far include (with more to be announced):
Presenter: Corona Extra
Bronze: Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, BTEC, Delta/AeroMexico, DePaul University, Illinois Lottery, Lopez & Co, Prado & Renteria, Tristan & Cervantes, US Bank, Xfinity, The Whitehall Hotel
Media Sponsors: Chicago Reader, WBEZ/Vocalo, CAN TV, and La Raza
The Chicago Latino Film Festival receives additional support from: The Reva and David Logan Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity, and Arts at Prince, The Field Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, Vanguard Charitable, Chicago Community Trust, Art Works Fund, Chicago Department Of Cultural Affairs (DCASE), Nordstrom, Illinois Arts Council, a State Agency, and Walder Foundation.
The Chicago Latino Film Festival receives additional support from: The Reva and David Logan Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity, and Arts at Prince, The Field Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Vanguard Charitable, Chicago Community Trust, Art Works Fund, Illinois Arts Council, a State Agency, and Walder Foundation.
ABOUT THE ILCC
The International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago is a pan-Latino, nonprofit, multidisciplinary arts organization dedicated to developing, promoting and increasing awareness of Latino cultures among Latinos and other communities by presenting a wide variety of art forms and education including film, music, dance, visual arts, comedy and theater.
The Center prides itself for its outstanding multidisciplinary local and international cultural programming which spans Latin America, Spain, Portugal, and the United States.
Born out of the Chicago Latino Film Festival, The International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago also produces other programs, including the Latino Music Series, which will celebrate its 15th edition this year; Film in the Parks, also in its 15th season; the monthly Reel Film Club, already in its 11th year; and many others. All in all, the audience has grown from 500 people in 1985 for the first Chicago Latino Film Festival to more than 60,000 (Latinos and non-Latinos) who enjoy the year-round multidisciplinary cross-cultural exchanges offered by the Center.