Chicago Latina Film Festival | Festival | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Festival

Chicago Latina Film Festival

comment

The 17th annual Chicago Latino Film Festival, presented by the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, runs Friday, April 20, through Thursday, May 3. Film and video screenings will be at the Biograph, 2433 N. Lincoln; Columbia College Hokin Center, 623 S. Wabash; Dominican Univ. Fine Arts Building, 7900 W. Division, River Forest; Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton; Metzli Video Cinema, 1838 W. 18th St.; Northeastern Illinois Univ., 5500 N. Saint Louis; Northeastern Illinois Univ. El Centro Campus, 3119 N. Pulaski; Northwestern Univ. Annie May Swift Hall, 1905 Sheridan, Evanston; Northwestern Univ. Thorne Auditorium, 750 N. Lake Shore Dr.; Richard J. Daley College, 7500 S. Pulaski; Rubloff Auditorium, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Monroe; the Three Penny, 2424 N. Lincoln; and Univ. of Illinois-Chicago Lecture Center B2, 750 S. Halsted. Tickets for most programs are $9; for students, senior citizens, and disabled persons, $8; and for members of ILCC and the Illinois Arts Alliance, $7. Festival passes, good for ten screenings not including special events, are $70; for ILCC members, $60. For more information call 312-409-1757. Films marked with a 4 are highly recommended.

FRIDAY, APRIL 20

Los Diaz de Doris

A Puerto Rican divorcee, struggling to understand her growing children, meets a man who changes her life. Abdiel Colberg directed this 1999 feature. 102 min. (Facets Multimedia Center, 7:00)

Devil Gold

This 2000 Venezuelan feature begins like a TV issue-of-the-week movie, noting the ill effects of gold mining on the Amazonian rain forest, but after a series of melodramatic plot twists it deepens into something much more subtle, a riveting commentary on greed and survival. A mine owner pays one of his employees to steal gold from a rival, and the resulting murders are blamed on a missing woman whose daughter (Rocia Miranda in a nuanced performance) must become a prostitute to make restitution for the lost treasure. At times the film is subverted by its small-screen production values, but it's saved by strong acting and a murky morality that turns the young hooker into an antihero. Jose Novoa directed; with Laureano Olivarez. 90 min. (Jennifer Vanasco) (Biograph, 7:30)

The Gypsy

A professional musician, released from prison after serving two years for a crime he didn't commit, discovers that his girlfriend has married his best friend. Joaquin Cortes stars in this 2000 Spanish feature by writer-director Manuel Palacios. 106 min. (Biograph, 8:00)

Waiting List

Juan Carlos Tabio reunites Vladimir Cruz and Jorge Perugorria, who starred in the earlier Strawberry and Chocolate, for this crowd-pleasing 1999 comedy about a group of passengers who spend several days waiting to board a broken-down bus. An old casino abandoned when Castro came to power served as the film's decrepit bus station, and the panoply of characters ranges from an obese, food-hoarding trader to a young couple initiating a steamy romance. Eventually the passengers decide to fix the bus themselves; as Tabio once told an interviewer, "Problems can only be resolved in a collective way." But the feel-good communalism is balanced by a strong sense of the absurd (the film makes explicit reference to Luis Buñuel's The Exterminating Angel), and Tabio strikes a fine balance between light comedy, social critique, and almost surreal grotesqueness--at least until the trick ending, which somewhat trivializes the proceedings. 106 min. (FC) Tickets are $20 for this opening-night screening. (Rubloff Auditorium, 8:00)

God Jr.

An investigative reporter (Jairo Matos) looking into the disappearance of a businessman in Rio is drawn into a tangle of duplicity in this 2000 Brazilian mystery by Mauro Lima. The film opens with a giddy, noirish plunge into a seedy underworld of sex, cocaine, and snuff movies, but in its second half the reporter is led to a rural hippie paradise commanded by a messianic cult leader, and the plot becomes less coherent as the hero succumbs to its allure and bounces from one psychedelic trip to the next. 140 min. (TS) (Biograph, 8:30)

Tender Emotions

In My American Girls: A Dominican Story (2000), Aaron Matthews profiles the Ortizes, a family of immigrants in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The parents toil as hospital custodians, the eldest daughter studies at Columbia University, and the youngest daughter is friendly and socially active. Matthews needn't have cornered them in the middle of a family crisis, but he seems to present only the most positive moments (careful preparations for a graduation party, happy evenings at home, family outings never clouded by sibling rivalry). At the end we know little more about them and the challenges they face than we knew at the beginning. On the same program, short films from Chile and Mexico. 100 min. (Jack Helbig) (Facets Multimedia Center, 9:00)

SATURDAY, APRIL 21

The Holy Office

Arturo Ripstein's 1973 historical drama, set in 16th-century Mexico, focuses on a Dominican friar converted from Judaism who discovers that members of his family are still practicing their old religion and betrays them to the Inquisition. 130 min. (Biograph, 3:50)

4 Spirits of Havana

This extraordinary 2000 documentary follows Canadian jazz musicians Jane Bunnett and Larry Cramer on their late-90s pilgrimage to explore Cuba's musical heritage, with rare footage of aging rumba groups and a beautiful session with the Haitian Creole a cappella choir Desandann. Filmmakers Bay Weyman and Luis O. Garcia create a fascinating, evenhanded portrait of two complex and courageous people (especially touching and revealing is a sequence in which Bunnett, normally the cheerleader of the group, succumbs to suspicion and tears when she believes her flute and saxophone have been stolen from a Cuban hotel), and the film provides a revealing glimpse of Cuba at the end of the century, with its blue skies, small country roads, and clean, colorful villages. 92 min. (Jack Helbig) (Biograph, 4:10)

Adventures & Mischief

In Kids' Games (1999), from Spain, a young girl seeks revenge after her parents are killed during an alien invasion of the earth; Pablo Llorens directed this animated feature. On the same program: Robbed (2000) and Hein? (1999), shorts by Brazilian animators Mauricio Vidal, Renan de Moraes, and Sergio Yamasaki. 76 min. (Facets Multimedia Center, 4:30)

Felicidades

Lucho Bender's quirky Argentinean feature (2000) intertwines three separate narratives that take place on Christmas Eve: a doctor carrying a mysterious box tries to seduce a woman in red, a dentist searching for a toy robot to give his son winds up assisting the police as they break into a home, and a novelist trying to get to Buenos Aires winds up in a factory room where it seems the Last Supper has just ended. The script's long, aphoristic conversations and haunting religious imagery are lightened by strangely funny moments (walking through a plastic Nativity scene, the novelist is startled by a live sheep). Exceptional performances by Luis Machin, Gaston Pauls, Pablo Cedron, and Silke distinguish this small, quiet gem. 100 min. (Jennifer Vanasco) (Biograph, 5:00)

Made in Chicago Student Segment

Short videos by Maria Posse, Gabriela Monroy, Diana Romero, Tadeo Garcia, Alexander Rojas, Fernando Reyes, George Soro, Esperanza Bernabe, and Gretchen Hasse and Andres Duque. 60 min. (Facets Multimedia Center, 6:00 and 7:00)

Tender Emotions

See listing for Friday, April 20. (Facets Multimedia Center, 6:00)

The Taking of the Embassy

A Colombian-Mexican-Venezuelan

coproduction, this 2000 political drama by Circo Duran recounts the February 1980 incident in which Colombian guerrillas invaded the embassy of the Dominican Republic and touched off a hostage crisis that lasted nearly two months. 106 min. (Biograph, 6:20)

Tender Emotions

See listing for Friday, April 20. (Metzli Video Cinema, 7:00)

One Hundred Years of Forgiveness

Two families struggling to survive in a dying railroad town almost destroy each other in this 2000 Argentinean drama by Jose Glusman. Faced with an ailing and manipulative mother, a lonely Jewish shopkeeper (Glusman) duns a poor family for payment of a debt, but instead the family's son (a ferocious Pompeyo Audivert) takes him hostage. Glusman emphasizes the family's squalid home life (with physical violence and hints of incest), and there's an undertone of anti-Semitism in their resentment of the shopkeeper. Unfortunately the relationships aren't developed enough to sustain real tension, leaving only a barrage of unpleasant scenes. 89 min. (Jennifer Vanasco) On the same program, Ekos (2000, 11 min.), a Chilean short by Arnaldo Rodriguez. (Biograph, 7:30)

The Life of Ruben Blades

A Discovery Channel profile of the Panamanian musician, actor, and activist, directed by Alex Pels. 72 min. (Facets Multimedia Center, 8:00)

I Had a Dream About You

A sex researcher (Francisco Melo) takes a teaching post in a Chilean coastal town, where he's seduced by a brazen student from Spain (Paulina Galvez) and must choose between her and his sensible wife. Director Gonzalo Justiniano creates a tony Hitchcockian atmosphere of yearning and danger as the couple enter their adulterous liaison, but this 1999 psychological drama lacks suspense. 90 min. (TS) (Biograph, 8:50)

City of M

A slacker and petty thief in Lima tries to decide whether to help a friend smuggle some cocaine into Miami. Felipe Degregori Caso directed this 2000 Peruvian drama, adapted from a novel by Oscar Malca. 100 min. (Biograph, 9:00)

One Night With Sabrina Love

A teenager, orphaned and living with his grandmother, wins a chance to spend the night with a porn star in Buenos Aires. Alejandro Agresti directed this 2000 Argentinean comedy. 105 min. (Biograph, 9:15)

Los Diaz de Doris

See listing for Friday, April 20. (Facets Multimedia Center, 9:30)

Dust to Dust

If Evelyn Waugh were a Mexican punk he might have come up with this breezy, inventive black comedy about a pot-smoking slacker (Osvaldo Benavides) and his straight-arrow cousin (Rodrigo Cachero), united in their love for their grandfather and their dislike for their respective fathers. After the grandfather dies and the fathers ignore his wish for a sea burial, the grandsons hijack his urn and take off for Acapulco Bay, their journey filled with macabre twists and turns as they bicker, reconcile, and learn of the grandfather's secret past. Director Juan Carlos de Llaca is refreshingly wise in his treatment of the kids' alienation and rapport (less so in his stereotypical treatment of their repressed parents), and the film's giddiness is heightened by Checco Varese's gliding camera and a sound track pulsing with rock en español. 96 min. (TS) (Biograph, 11:00)

The Vineyard

Esteban Schroeder directed this 2000 drama from Uruguay, about a reporter investigating the disappearance and possible murder of a young boy who antagonized a wealthy landowner. 88 min. (Biograph, 11:00)

SUNDAY, APRIL 22

The Last Prophet

A young boy living in a Mexican town with his mother has the ability to predict the future, a gift that his neighbors are convinced is satanic. Juan Antonio de la Riva directed this 2000 feature. 93 min. (Biograph, 3:50)

Love and Terror

Juan Carlos Desanzo (Eva Peron: The True Story) directed this fanciful tale in which the magical realist writer Jorge Luis Borges plays amateur detective to rescue an aristocratic woman from her Peronista husband, who's plotting to poison her. 110 min. (Biograph, 4:00)

The Vineyard

See listing for Saturday, April 21. (Biograph, 4:10)

Adventures & Mischief

See listing for Saturday, April 21. (Facets Multimedia Center, 4:30)

Made in Chicago Student Segment

See listing for Saturday, April 21. (Facets Multimedia Center, 6:00 and 7:00)

Rotten From the Inside

Two documentaries about U.S. involvement in Latin America. Enemies of War (57 min.) is a relatively routine TV documentary about El Salvador's long civil war and the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests and two members of their household. Director Esther Cassidy shows how much of the country's wealth was controlled by a small oligarchy tied to the military, but the video breaks little new ground and her repeated shots of the victims are inappropriate. Typical of her visual imagination is a comment about a United Nations report that's illustrated by a shot of the UN Secretariat Building. (FC) On the same program, Father Roy: Inside the School of the Assassins (60 min.), Robert Richter's video documentary about the priest-activist campaigning for closure of the infamous U.S. Army School of the Americas (now the Defense Institute for Hemispheric Security Cooperation). (Facets Multimedia Center, 6:00)

Bro

Three Cuban-American buddies, in their 30s and still adrift in Miami, pin all their hopes on a racetrack bet, but one of them squanders the money on a drug deal. Joe Cardona and Mario de Varona directed this male-bonding yarn, which recycles street-tough shouting matches from other movies about the urban fringe (principally Mean Streets) yet lacks their sneering desperation. Though the film seems authentic in its depiction of a hedonistic south Florida, most of its situations are so contrived that it fritters away its credibility by the time the confusing climax rolls around. 93 min. (TS) (Biograph, 6:20)

The Bronze Screen

Nancy De Los Santos, Susan Racho, and Alberto Dominguez directed this 95-minute documentary about the role of Latinos in the history of Hollywood films. 95 min. (Biograph, 6:40)

The Blue Diner

Lisa Vidal plays a bilingual Puerto Rican woman in Boston who's torn between her Irish employer's son (Jack Mulcahy) and a renegade Cuban artist (Jose Yenque) who may be using her to obtain U.S. citizenship. After a fight with her mother, who favors the Irishman, she mysteriously loses her ability to speak Spanish and, apparently, her Latino heritage as well. The script's quirky humor (Vidal sells caskets for a living, and the ashes of one character are accidentally used to pepper a dish at the title diner) never overwhelms the character-driven story, and director Jan Egleson mines themes of love, aging, and death without taking the material too seriously. Miriam Colon is hot-headed and wily as the mother, and cinematographer Teresa Medina makes the Boston locale seem as colorful as a tropical bird. 100 min. (Jennifer Vanasco) (Biograph, 6:45)

The Life of Ruben Blades

See listing for Saturday, April 21. (Facets Multimedia Center, 8:30)

Devil Gold

See listing for Friday, April 20. (Biograph, 8:50)

Hunters Moon

A drug mule, hired to pick up a large quantity of cocaine from the Colombian border and deliver it to a French couple, enlists the help of a transvestite friend he met at a correctional facility. Alberto Graca directed this 2000 Brazilian feature. 113 min. (Biograph, 9:00)

The Gypsy

See listing for Friday, April 20. (Biograph, 9:15)

MONDAY, APRIL 23

A World Further Away

George Moura's documentary, produced by the Discovery Channel, retraces the Langsdorff expedition of the 1820s, an epic journey across Brazil to study the country's flora, fauna, and indigenous peoples. 112 min. (Univ. of Illinois-Chicago, 9:00 am)

The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers' Struggle

A TV profile of the union organizer who helped establish the United Farmworkers Union. Rick Tejada-Flores and Ray Telles directed. 120 min. (Northeastern Illinois Univ., 6:00)

God, Jr.

See listing for Friday, April 20. (Biograph, 6:20)

One Hundred Years of Forgiveness

See listing for Saturday, April 21. (Biograph, 6:40)

The Ruination of Men

This week the festival honors Mexican director Arturo Ripstein with its lifetime achievement award and a retrospective that includes The Holy Office (1973), Such Is Life (1998), No One Writes to the Colonel (1999), and this 2000 release, an absurdist comedy in black and white, sharply scripted by Paz Alicia Garciadiego, that begins with a peasant being beaten to death by two of his friends. Initially the reasons for this are quite obscure, but the motivations and back story gradually emerge as his friends, his wife, and his lover bicker over his corpse, both at his house and the morgue. This is the most interesting Ripstein feature I've seen, and though it resembles a play in certain respects, it's energized by an able cast and the filmmaker's vigorous mise en scene. A North American premiere. 98 min. (JR) (Biograph, 7:00)

Tender Emotions

See listing for Friday, April 20. (Columbia College, 7:00)

Rotten From the Inside

See listing for Sunday, April 22. (Dominican Univ., 7:30)

Felicidades

See listing for Saturday, April 21. (Biograph, 8:50)

Spirits of Havana

See listing for Saturday, April 21. (Three Penny, 9:00)

The Blue Diner

See listing for Sunday, April 22. (Biograph, 9:10)

Desi's Looking for a New Girl

A butch skate punk in San Francisco plays matchmaker to a best friend despondent over a recent breakup in this long-winded, technically clumsy comedy by Mary Guzman. The romantic quest is dreadfully arduous, entailing self-conscious girl talk, disjointed episodes of first dates, and the sort of leering humor that would be condemned as sexist if the characters were straight men. This 2000 feature might have offered a glimpse of the dating scene for Latina lesbians or the lightweight moral comedy of a film like Go Fish; instead it plays like something by Ed Wood. 80 min. (TS) On the same program, Simon Decouvre (2000, 10 min.) an Argentinean short by Nicolas Grandi. (Facets Multimedia Center, 9:15)

The Taking of the Embassy

See listing for Saturday, April 21. (Biograph, 9:30)

TUESDAY, APRIL 24

Rotten From the Inside

See listing for Sunday, April 22. (Univ. of Illinois-Chicago, 11:00 am)

Rotten From the Inside

See listing for Sunday, April 22. (Northeastern Illinois Univ., 1:40)

Tender Emotions

See listing for Friday, April 20. (Northeastern Illinois Univ. El Centro Campus, 6:00)

One Night With Sabrina Love

See listing for Saturday, April 21. (Biograph, 6:20)

76-89-03

Three young boys in Argentina grow up worshiping a supermodel TV personality, and at a bachelor party for one of them, they discover that the object of their fantasies has become a high-class hooker. Directed by Cristian Bernard and Flavio Nardini. 85 min. (Biograph, 6:40)

Dust to Dust

See listing for Saturday, April 21. (Biograph, 7:00)

Earth

Two films: Oscar Niemeyer (2000) is a one-hour Discovery Channel profile of the eponymous Brazilian architect, and in Silent Dawn (2000), Claudia R. Amaya tells the story of her emigration from war-torn El Salvador to the U.S. 81 min. (Facets Multimedia Center, 7:00)

Blossom of Fire

An earnest celebration of strong womanhood, Maureen Gosling and Ellen Osborne's documentary explores the Zapotec town of Juchitan, in southern Mexico, where men and women have been equals since pre-Columbian days. Ethnographic segments about the natives' daily life are bridged by expressive folk songs, though the film digresses to consider colonialism, homosexuality, and the effects of globalization on indigenous cultures. Gosling's schoolmarmish narration betrays the filmmakers' awestruck naivete toward the culture, which they seem to consider some sort of matriarchal utopia. 74 min. (TS) (Dominican Univ., 7:30)

Love and Terror

See listing for Sunday, April 22. (Biograph, 8:50)

The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers' Struggle

See listing for Monday, April 22. (Facets Multimedia Center, 9:00)

City of M

See listing for Saturday, April 21. (Three Penny, 9:00)

The Last Prophet

See listing for Sunday, April 22. (Biograph, 9:10)

Bastards in Paradise

A young man whose parents left Chile for Stockholm joins an ethnic gang and gets involved in crime and drugs. Luis Vera directed this 2000 feature. 115 min. (Biograph, 9:30)

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25

A World Further Away

See listing for Monday, April 23. (Northeastern Illinois Univ., 6:00)

Bro

See listing for Sunday, April 22. (Biograph, 6:20)

I Had a Dream About You

See listing for Saturday, April 21. (Biograph, 6:40)

Desi's Looking for a New Girl

See listing for Monday, April 23. (Facets Multimedia Center, 7:00)

Divided Hearts

A Lithuanian Jew who moved to Argentina with his family in the late 19th century leaves the village to become an actor, returns 20 years later, and falls in love with the grown daughter of his former sweetheart. Antonio Ottone directed this 2000 feature. 100 min. (Biograph, 7:00)

No One Writes to the Colonel

Arturo Ripstein directed this 1999 adaptation of the Gabriel Garcia Marquez story about an aging officer and his wife trying to cope with the death of their son. A French-Spanish-Mexican coproduction. 118 min. Ripstein will attend the screening; tickets are $15. (Northwestern Univ. Thorne Auditorium, 8:00)

Natural Behavior

A Japanese woman abandoned in a Spanish village by her male companion strikes up a friendship with an 11-year-old girl who's being raised by two brothers at a cattle ranch in the mountains. Vicente Perez Herrero direct this 1999 feature. 85 min. (Biograph, 8:50)

Earth

See listing for Tuesday, April 24. (Facets Multimedia Center, 9:00)

Hunters Moon

See listing for Sunday, April 22. (Three Penny, 9:00)

Florentino and the Devil

Michael New directed this 2000 Venezuelan costume drama in which a young street singer falls for the daughter of a wealthy landowner and then faces a vocal duel with Satan. 90 min. (Biograph, 9:10)

Red Ink

A young writer becomes the crime editor for a Peruvian scandal sheet and clashes with his cynical and troubled boss in this 2000 feature by Francisco Lombardi. 121 min. (Biograph, 9:30)

THURSDAY, APRIL 26

The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers' Struggle

See listing for Monday, April 23. (Daley College, 2:00)

Divided Hearts

See listing for Wednesday, April 25. (Biograph, 6:20)

Chamon

Roger Mudd narrates this 2000 profile of a young Spanish bullfighter on his way to stardom. Directed by Christian Winter. 88 min. (Northwestern Univ. Swift Hall, 6:30)

The Sweat of the Nightingale

A young Romanian cellist travels to Spain in hopes of winning a post at a conservatory but finds himself learning the law of the street in this 2000 feature film debut by writer-director Juan Manuel Cotelo, showing as the festival's "Night of Spain" program. 115 min. (Biograph, 6:40)

Elementary Queens Segment

Films about young girls by Silvia Munt, Jorges Navas, Albert G. Caballero, and Daniel Davila, whose Things Fall (2000) concerns an aging chess master with Alzheimer's who must be separated from a young student after striking her. 101 min. (Facets Multimedia Center, 7:00)

Such Is Life

Arturo Ripstein directed this 2000 drama about a woman whose husband takes the kids, moves in with the daughter of their landlord, and has his wife evicted. 98 min. (Biograph, 7:00)

Three Nations, One Game: Baseball

Viva Cepeda! is the stronger of these two baseball documentaries, largely because of the complex, colorful, cross-cultural life led by its subject, Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda. His father was the best ballplayer in Puerto Rico, but racism barred him from the U.S. major leagues; when Cepeda encountered bigotry as a rookie for the San Francisco Giants his father urged him to stick it out. A reluctant retiree, Cepeda was jailed for marijuana possession but then rebuilt his life with a new home, a new wife, and a new religion (Buddhism). In Greener Grass: Cuba, Baseball, and the United States, Aaron Woolf tells an equally fascinating story (Cubans have been playing the game almost as long as we have) but never really integrates its multiple threads, dutifully structuring the video around two 1999 games between a Cuban team and the Baltimore Orioles. Contrary to the prevailing wisdom that public television is a haven for lefties, Woolf accuses Castro of making the game "political" while omitting footage of the Cuban team celebrating a lopsided victory over the Orioles. 95 min. (FC) (Daley College, 8:00)

35 Caliber

Three Colombian friends unable to win backing for a feature film talk each other into robbing a bank and model their heist after those in Hollywood thrillers. Directed and shot by Raul Garcia, this 2000 release is short on logic and long on adrenaline, a compendium of postmodern visual tics ranging from jittery camera work to weird angles to high-contrast film stock. The climactic bank job is exciting; otherwise this is a dazzling but ultimately empty-headed trip. With Robinson Diaz and Juanita Acosta. 108 min. (TS) (Biograph, 8:50)

The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers' Struggle

See listing for Monday, April 23. (Facets Multimedia Center, 9:00)

Diastole and Sistole

Harold Trompetero's 2000 Colombian comedy presents 35 vignettes in which young people wrestle with sexual and relationship issues. 80 min. (Three Penny, 9:00)

Dreams in Half of the World

Naranjo Estrella directed this 1998 Ecuadoran film, a triptych of short narratives. In one a young piano teacher is victimized by sexual innuendo in a small town, and in a second a professor has visions of a woman haunting the Guggenheim Museum. 97 min. (Biograph, 9:10)

It Happened in Havana

A thief masquerading as a literature professor in Cuba plots a jewel heist but then falls for the daughter of a former cop. Daniel Diaz Torres directed this 2000 feature, a Cuban-Spanish-German coproduction. 107 min. (Biograph, 9:30)

Add a comment