Presented by the International Latino Cultural Center, the 26th Chicago Latino Film Festival runs Friday, April 16, through Thursday, April 29, at Instituto Cervantes, 31 W. Ohio; Landmark's Century Centre, 2828 N. Clark; and smaller venues throughout the city and suburbs. Tickets for most screenings are $10; $9 for students, seniors, and the disabled; and $8 for ILCC members. A festival pass, good for a dozen admissions, is $100, $80 for ILCC members. Following are selected films screening this week, in English and/or subtitled Spanish unless otherwise noted. For more information call 312-409-1757 or see latinoculturalcenter.org.
Blood and Rain Damned if this Colombian drama doesn't end with all the characters blood-smeared under a torrential rainfall. In the opening scene an oily but appealing cab driver (Quique Mendoza) gets his ass kicked by two thugs who work for a local drug lord; the same crew murdered his upright brother two weeks earlier, and they don't want the cabbie getting any funny ideas about revenge. Meanwhile, a sizzling hot party girl (Gloria Montoya) hops from club to club in search of guys with cocaine (or, preferably, just the cocaine); after landing in the cabbie's backseat, she gets sucked into his conflict with the bad guys. This works pretty well as a moody urban fable, but the slow pacing becomes a problem as director Jorge Navas tries to manufacture some suspense toward the end. 111 min. —J.R. Jones Sat 4/17, 6:45 PM, and Mon 4/19, 6:30 PM, Landmark's Century Centre.
Fallen Gods A scrolling title at the beginning of this Cuban drama delivers a quick primer on Alberto Yarini Ponce de Leon, a legendary pimp who wrested control of the Havana prostitution market from French colonists in 1910. Unfortunately, the movie centers not on this intriguing figure but on a modern-day college professor who's writing a book about Yarini and decides to immerse herself in the real world of prostitution by interviewing a hardened pimp and his hookers. The focus soon shifts to a mouth-watering young gigolo in the pimp's employ, and the story devolves into a mundane bodice ripper as he lays his sweet, fierce love on not only the professor but a middle-aged real estate agent and, fatefully, the pimp's luscious girlfriend. Ernesto Daranas Beranno directed. 94 min. —J.R. Jones Wed 4/21, 8:15 PM, and Thu 4/22, 8:30 PM, Landmark's Century Centre.
Immigrant Nation! The Battle for the Dream Esau Melendez directed this documentary about the 2006 street protests for immigration reform and the deportation battle of activist Elvira Arellano; see Ed M. Koziarski's "Our Town" story for more. 100 min. Sun 4/18, 4 PM, Landmark's Century Centre.
Last Stop 174 In June 2000, Brazilians were transfixed by a televised stand-off between Rio de Janeiro policemen and 22-year-old Sandro Rosa do Nascimento, a homeless petty criminal whose armed robbery attempt aboard a city bus had quickly degenerated into a hostage crisis. If this sounds familiar, you've probably seen Jose Padilha and Felipe Lacerda's superb documentary Bus 174 (2002), which used the incident to unpack myriad social and economic ills in Rio. For some reason screenwriter Braulio Mantovani and director Bruno Barreto have decided to give the story another spin, this time as a partly fictionalized melodrama that follows Sandro from childhood to the climactic bus jacking. Barreto dutifully re-creates the 1993 massacre, witnessed by Sandro, in which cops killed several homeless boys on the plaza of a Catholic church, but his fabrications (most notably, a subplot about a poor woman who loses her infant to drug dealers, finds Jesus, and comes back years later looking for the boy) can't help but pale in comparison to the earlier film's jarring realism. 107 min. —J.R. Jones Fri 4/16, 9 PM; Tue 4/20, 8:45 PM; and Thu 4/22, 8:45 PM; Landmark's Century Centre.
The Night Runner Argentine actor Leonardo Sbaraglia is a near-ringer for Michael Imperioli (Christopher Moltisanti on The Sopranos) and brings similar resources of vacillation, guilt, and rage to his role as Eduardo, a young Buenos Aires insurance exec alienated from both his high-pressure career and the emotional demands of his pretty wife (Erica Rivas) and two perfect children. During an airport layover, he meets an imposing older suit (a superb Miguel Angel Sola) who gives Eduardo a cigar and subsequently appoints himself as the younger man's Mephistophelean mentor, despite Eduardo's increasingly desperate demurrals. Resourceful Spanish director Gerardo Herrero puts his own moody stamp on themes that should be familiar from Strangers on a Train, Fight Club, and Laurent Cantet's Time Out. In Spanish with subtitles. 98 min. —Cliff Doerksen Sun 4/18, 6 PM; Tue 4/20, 6:15 PM; and Thu 4/22, 6:15 PM; Landmark's Century Centre.
The Passion of Gabriel A liberal priest in a rural Colombian village tries to follow his conscience by refusing to compromise with either the guerrillas or the soldiers vying for control of the hamlet, but gradually his unorthodox methods alienate many of the residents. Andres Parra is engagingly hammy as the willful priest, who's caught in a torrid affair with a local woman (Maria Cecilia Sanchez) pressuring him to settle down with her. Luis Alberto Restrepo's direction is dully pedestrian, and though his 2008 film paints an unflattering portrait of both the military and the renegades, its earnest preachiness impedes the drama and blunts its tragic conclusion. 86 min. —Joshua Katzman Thu 4/22, 6:15 PM, Landmark's Century Centre.
Teresa The lissome Francisca Lewin stars in this talky Chilean biopic (2009) about the short, turbulent life of Teresa Wilms Montt, a poet and anarchist of the early 20th century. This well-bred belle first signals her rejection of bourgeois norms by stripping to the waist at a genteel society function, and after she estranges her family by eloping at age 17, her hard-drinking husband catches her cheating and ships her off to a convent. A friend helps her bust out of the stifling nunnery, but her subsequent literary fame fails to compensate for the miseries of her messy personal life. Director Tatiana Gaviola serves up swoony sex, melodrama, and nicely dry-cleaned costumes. In Spanish with subtitles. 84 min. —Cliff Doerksen Thu 4/22, 6 PM, Landmark's Century Centre.