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Chicago Latino Film Festival

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The 19th annual Chicago Latino Film Festival, presented by the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, runs Friday, April 4, through Thursday, April 17. Film and video screenings will be at Association House, 2150 W. North; Bank One, Dearborn at Madison; Benton House, 3036 S. Gratten, second floor; Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th; Biograph; Columbia College Ludington Bldg.; Richard J. Daley College, 7500 S. Pulaski; Dominican Univ., 7900 W. Division, River Forest; Facets Cinematheque; I.C.E. Cinema, 2258 W. 62nd; Morton College, 3801 S. Central; North Park University, 3225 W. Foster; Northwestern Univ. Block Museum of Art; Three Penny; and Univ. of Illinois at Chicago Lecture Center B2, 750 S. Halsted. Tickets for most programs are $9; $8 for students, senior citizens, and disabled persons; $7 for members of ILCC and the Illinois Arts Alliance. Festival passes, good for ten screenings, not including special events, are $70, $60 for ILCC members. For more information call 312-409-1757. Films marked with an * are highly recommended; unless otherwise noted, all films are in Spanish with subtitles.

Following is the schedule through April 10; a complete schedule is available on-line at www.chicagoreader.com.

FRIDAY, APRIL 4

I Am Bolivar

Ambitious but unwieldy, this black comedy from Colombia (2001, 93 min.) is the warped odyssey of an idealistic actor (Robinson Diaz) with a hit TV series who comes unhinged and begins to disappear into his role: Simon Bolivar, the 19th-century revolutionary who drove the Spanish from Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. After storming off the set, the delusional star kidnaps the president and sails up the Orinoco River, only to encounter some Marxist guerrillas who want in on the act. Director Jorge Ali Triana makes some trenchant observations about the power of mass media ("You take care of the theater, I'll take care of the politics," Bolivar tells the president), but his film--like its obvious antecedent, Sidney Lumet's Network--has a tough time striking a balance between farce and serious drama. (JJ) Showing as part of the opening-night gala; tickets are $65, $50 for ILCC members. (Biograph, 6:30)

Enamorada

A village beauty tames the heart of a bandit leader in this 1946 Mexican classic directed by Emilio Fernandez, part of the festival's tribute to actress Maria Felix. 99 min. (Three Penny, 7:00)

One or the Other

Marcel Sisniega directed this 2002 drama about twin sisters in northern Mexico competing for the love of a man. 90 min. (I.C.E. Cinema, 7:00)

Rosa la China

Set in the casinos of prerevolutionary Havana, this story of romantic betrayal was directed by Valeria Sarmiento (A Man, When He Is a Man). A coproduction of Portugal, France, Spain, and Cuba. 106 min. (Biograph, 7:00)

Private Matters

Documentarians Lisandra Rivera and Manolo Sarmiento examine the lives of three illegal immigrants in Madrid--refugees from Ecuador's economic collapse eking out livelihoods while struggling with homesickness and despair. In less capable hands this 2002 video might have succumbed to sentimentalism or tedium, but Rivera and Sarmiento are adept at drawing out drama from the mundane, and the cinematography is rich and resonant without being arty. In one of the film's most compelling scenes we see Antonio, who survives by selling drinks in a park, arriving at sunrise to clean up around the place of his business in the hope that authorities will not shut him down as a nuisance. 72 min. (Jack Helbig) Also on the program: Dalia L. Tapia's In Search of Lety (2001, 14 min.). (Facets Cinematheque, 7:00)

Musical Chairs

A tedious if mainly well-acted drama (2002, 93 min.) about the forced gaiety that ensues when a young man who's been living in Canada briefly returns to his family and former girlfriend in Argentina. Writer-director Ana Katz (who plays one of the young man's sisters) must have had more on her mind than the threadbare plot indicates, but whatever it was, it's obscured by her stagy direction and Diego De Paula's opaque performance as the hero. (JR) Also on the program: Erwin Neumaier and Erick Beltran's Mexican short Fosfenos (2002, 3 min.). (Biograph, 9:00)

Sor Juana's Obsessions

The spirit of the 17th-century nun enters the body of a present-day scholar in this 2002 Mexican drama by Antonio Garcia Molina. 100 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 9:00)

One or the Other

See listing this date above. (I.C.E. Cinema, 9:00)

SATURDAY, APRIL 5

Made in Chicago

Short work from Latino Art Beat, Video Machete, Columbia College, and Harriet Beecher Stowe School. (Facets Cinematheque, 4:00)

Ogu y Mampato en Rapanui

In this charming 2002 animated film from Chile, Mampato's father brings home a replica of an Easter Island statue, and the boy becomes fascinated by the mysterious culture that created the original. Using a magic belt, he travels back in time to befriend a caveman called Ogu, and the two embark on a journey to the island. There Mampato meets a little girl who takes him to her village. He soon realizes that the sorcerer ruler is misusing the power that comes from the statues and becomes embroiled in a battle to restore harmony to the island. Director Alejandro Rojas Tellez doesn't achieve the epic scope of many Disney animated features, but this is still a visually rich and compelling piece of storytelling. 80 min. (Joshua Katzman) (Biograph, 4:00)

El bruto

Pedro, an enthusiastic young butcher nicknamed "the Brute," leaves the slaughterhouse to work as a rent collector for a Mexico City slumlord. But the slumlord's wife is so impressed by his physical prowess (he kills a delinquent tenant with one blow) that she takes him as her lover. Katy Jurado and Pedro Armendariz star in this 1952 production from Luis Bunuel's Mexican period, showing as part of the festival's tribute to Jurado. 83 min. (Three Penny, 5:00)

The Island of Lost Children

Florence Jaugey gave young offenders in a Nicaraguan penitentiary video cameras and a brief tutorial in their operation; this 2001 documentary comprises footage they shot. The framing device of following the prisoners as they make their own movie (alternately interviewing and being interviewed) packs a certain postmodern punch, and there are some genuinely powerful moments: a tearful reunion of mother and son, a dry-eyed firsthand account of a prison murder, matter-of-fact descriptions of prison gang life. But more often than not the video replicates the dreary routine of life behind bars. The topic is fascinating but the net effect is soporific. 82 min. (Jack Helbig) Also on the program: Loreto Quijada's Chilean short Santiago, the Project (2002, 12 min.). (Facets Cinematheque, 5:00)

Passionate People

I'd be more impressed with the Chicago Latino Film Festival if it better recognized the cutting edge of contemporary South American cinema (for instance, Raul Ruiz's 2002 Chilean Rhapsody, an ongoing miniseries). Argentinean independent cinema is said to be enjoying a renaissance, but this year's lineup shows few signs of it. This vulgar, stupid comedy (2002, 99 min.) about artificial insemination grossed $2.4 million in Argentina, perhaps because its actors come from soap operas, but is that any excuse for showcasing it here? Juan Jose Jusid directed. (JR) (Biograph, 6:00)

Fairy Tales to Put Crocodiles to Sleep

A winner of seven Ariels at the 2001 Mexican Academy Awards, including best picture, best actor, and best original screenplay, this feature brims with magnificent landscapes--wind-sculpted canyons and haunting vistas of red dirt and clear blue sky masterfully rendered by cinematographer Patrick Murguia. Unfortunately the script and direction by Ignacio Ortiz Cruz can't live up to the scenery. The story--about a family cursed to reenact, generation after generation, the same murderous battle between brothers--plays like a clumsy imitation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and the direction is a thin simulation of Luis Bunuel. Aiming for art, Cruz delivers an arty soap opera. 100 min. (Jack Helbig) (I.C.E. Cinema, 7:00)

Hunting of Man

Set in a Mexican-American suburb of LA, this 2002 drama about three Mexican-American buddies who grow up to follow divergent paths could easily be rewritten for any ethnic setting. Pete (JoJo Henrickson) is a budding newspaperman; his brother Simon (Douglas Spain) wants to be a cop; their friend Omar (Manolo Travieso) is a loan shark. When Simon and Omar fall out, everyone around them gets caught up in a spiral of violence. This is as hackneyed as it sounds, but writer-editor-director Joe Menendez manages to inject some energy into the proceedings and Henrickson gives a likable performance as the cuddly older brother. 90 min. (Joshua Katzman) Also on the program: Andres Bergmann's Guatemalan short The Corner (2002, 18 min.). (Facets Cinematheque, 7:00)

The Last Train

Veteran railway men in Uruguay steal a vintage locomotive to prevent it from being sold to Hollywood in this Uruguayan-Argentinean-Spanish adventure by Diego Arsuaga. 90 min. Also on the program: Javier Patron's Mexican short The Flower Pot (2002, 18 min.). (Three Penny, 7:00)

The Photographer

Sebastian Alarcon directed this 2002 black comedy about a Chilean filmmaker struggling to live up to the cinematic ideals of his idol, Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky. 96 min. Also on the program: Gabriel Velasquez's Spanish short Tinplate Soldiers (2001, 9 min.). (Biograph, 7:00)

Wedding Days

This 2002 Spanish chamber drama, set in a swank resort, focuses on one day in the seemingly idyllic relationship of Rosendo, a successful novelist, and Sonia, his publisher's daughter, as they prepare to exchange their wedding vows. Director Juan Pinzas, a Dogma 95 practitioner, neatly captures the happiness turning to ugly recriminations and public accusations. But he doesn't seem to care much for his principal characters and so doesn't create much sympathy for them--he doesn't seem to understand that there's a fine line between warts-and-all depictions and outright contempt. With Monti Castineiras and Comba Campoy. 104 min. (Joshua Katzman) (Biograph, 7:00)

A Game of Cat and Mouse

The electrification of a Colombian village creates unforeseen havoc in this 2002 black comedy directed by Rodrigo Triana. 93 min. Also on the program: Denis Rovira Van Boekholt's Spanish short Angel (2002, 13 min.). (Biograph, 8:00)

Dona Barbara

Fernando Fuentes directed this 1943 Mexican romance about a lady rancher who uses her feminine wiles to defend her land title, showing as part of the festival's tribute to actress Maria Felix. 139 min. (Biograph, 9:00)

* A Lucky Day

Filmed in 2000, during the riots in Buenos Aires, this vibrant 2001 indie feature by Sandra Gugliotta may already be a little dated, but it's still the only Argentinean film I've seen in this year's selection that seems to reflect current events. After a brief fling with a visiting Italian, a young woman at loose ends (vividly played by Valentina Bassi) tries to raise money by dealing drugs so she can split for Rome. Her relationships with her grandfather, an emigre anarchist from Italy, and a local partner in crime who loves her are both touching, but the film is most potent in capturing a time and place. 97 min. (JR) (Biograph, 9:00)

Rosa la China

See listing for Friday, April 4. (Three Penny, 9:00)

Sor Juana's Obsessions

See listing for Friday, April 4. (Facets Cinematheque, 9:00)

Three Nights in a Saturday

In this 2001 Chilean feature directed by Joaquin Eyzaguirre, fate brings reveling strangers together on a Saturday night. 80 min. Also on the program: Pedro Carvana's Brazilian short Candido's Short Story (2001, 15 min.). (I.C.E. Cinema, 9:00)

Cat's Cradle

An amoral look (2001) at amoral teens in Sao Paulo. Three middle-class boys who just graduated from high school listen to rap, surf the Net, get wasted, and talk about their lives. As if to prove he's part of the Internet generation, director Alexandre Stockler videotapes the three using digicams, Webcams, and surveillance cams as they gang-rape a girl, then inadvertently kill one of their mothers--or are they making up a story? Lots of fast zooms and frantic editing help ensure that the story quickly gets confusing and emotionally cold. Stockler makes killing grotesque and exhilarating, but to what purpose? In Portuguese with subtitles. 92 min. (TS) Also on the program: Fernando Eimbcke's Mexican short Weight-Watch (2002, 10 min.). (Biograph, 10:00)

* Aro Tolbukhin: In the Mind of the Killer

This enthralling hoax begins on a note of perfect verisimilitude: archival footage purports to show a 1981 death-row interview with Aro Tolbukhin, a Hungarian-born serial killer who committed heinous crimes at a Guatemalan mission. But subsequent elements (dramatic reenactments, Super-8 footage of life at the mission, interviews with those who knew the killer) are artfully skewed to erode one's confidence in the narrative--and the documentary form itself. But even as the "facts" dissolve into metafiction, the story remains intensely involving. Agusti Villaronga, Lydia Zimmerman, and Isaac P. Racine directed this 2002 feature, a Spanish-Mexican coproduction. 100 min. (Cliff Doerksen) (Biograph, 11:00)

SUNDAY, APRIL 6

Made in Chicago

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (Facets Cinematheque, 4:00)

Private Matters

See listing for Friday, April 4. (Facets Cinematheque, 4:00)

Ogu y Mampato en Rapanui

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (Biograph, 4:30)

El bruto

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (I.C.E. Cinema, 5:00)

Enamorada

See listing for Friday, April 4. (Three Penny, 5:00)

Nothing More

A Cuban postal clerk begins rewriting people's letters to straighten out their lives in this 2001 comedy by Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti. 93 min. Also on the program: Ruj Goulart's Portuguese short International Boarding House (2002, 15 min.). (Biograph, 5:00)

The Island of Lost Children

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (Benton House, 6:00)

* The Archangel's Feather

Director Luis Manza, a veteran of Venezuelan TV, makes an impressive feature debut with this modest but fully realized 2001 adaptation of a story by Arturo Uslar Pietri. The telegraph operator in a remote mountain village has passed away, and his replacement is a handsome and eerily self-possessed gentleman in a luminous white suit. Explaining to his squirrelly young assistant that he wields "the power of the word," the telegrapher begins to fabricate messages from the country's "Supreme Chief," thus liberating the villagers from the rule of a tyrannical colonel and the rapacious son of a local administrator. In tone if not substance, the film draws heavily on magical realism: frequent lap dissolves create a fluid sense of time, sounds accompanying key events are drenched in reverb, and the percussive score suggests the nervous tattoo of Morse code. 92 min. (JJ) (Biograph, 6:30)

National Stadium

Within hours of the Chilean military coup in September 1973, soldiers began rounding up political prisoners, and for the next two months some 12,000 people were sequestered in Santiago's national soccer stadium, where they were starved and in many cases raped, tortured, and murdered. Director Carmen Luz Parot made this 2001 documentary to counter the country's deepening amnesia about those events, combining archival footage and video interviews with former prisoners as they walk the stadium grounds describing their experiences. Filmmaking doesn't get much plainer than this, but the fascinating testimony on a tragic subject more than compensates for the lack of polish. Especially poignant witness comes from the survivors of electrical torture, and from a guilt-stricken former guard who discovered his own brother among the prisoners. 90 min. (Cliff Doerksen) Also on the program: Ivan Mora Manzano's Ecuadoran short Nuclear Silence (2002, 10 min.). (Facets Cinematheque, 6:30)

No Turning Back

Melodramatic and peppered with unbelievable coincidences, this 2001 feature by novice directors Jesus Nebot and Julia Montejo still has a certain charm. Pablo (Nebot), once an English professor in Honduras, now labors in California tomato fields as an illegal immigrant in order to provide for his precocious six-year-old daughter (sitcom-ready Chelsea Rendon). While driving a borrowed truck, he hits and kills a child; panicked, he grabs his daughter and heads for Mexico in the company of an irritating guerrilla journalist (Lindsay Price) who wants to videotape his flight. TV veteran Nebot is nuanced and wise as the fugitive, but the overstuffed plot collapses under its own weight. In English. 99 min. (Jennifer Vanasco) (Biograph, 6:30)

Choropampa: The Price of Gold

This 2002 video about mercury-poisoned Peruvian villagers seeking redress from a U.S. mining company is distinguished from run-of-the-mill investigative documentaries by its scope. Not content with a quick TV-style hit about corporate duplicity and government corruption, directors Ernesto Cabellos and Stephanie Boyd stayed with the story for two years, documenting the ways in which local activism can be undermined by greed, stupidity, and infighting. Although the underdogs come off a little better at the end, no one is left untarnished in this cautionary tale. 78 min. (Jack Helbig) Also on the program: Marina Gonzalez Palmier's short White Like the Moon (2002, 23 min.). (Three Penny, 7:00)

Fairy Tales to Put Crocodiles to Sleep

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (Biograph, 7:00)

The First Night

Two brothers from an impoverished Colombian farm family follow separate paths: one joins a guerrilla force while the other joins the army. Luis Alberto Restrepo directed. 90 min. Also on the program: El delivery (2002, 8 min.) by Juan Castilo of the Dominican Republic. (I.C.E. Cinema, 7:00)

Hidden in Plain Sight

This 2002 video expose of the notorious School of the Americas isn't the most artful documentary ever made, but the disturbing subject matter renders moot considerations of finesse. For more than 50 years the SOA has served as a graduate school for the armies of Latin American governments, a place where soldiers acquire advanced military and interrogation skills courtesy of the U.S. government. Officially closed at the end of 2001, it has since reopened under a new name, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Director John Smihula sifts through the alumni roster (which includes Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and Salvadoran death-squad leader Roberto D'Aubuisson) and presents appalling evidence of American complicity in the widespread torture and murder of innocent civilians. In English. 72 min. (Joshua Katzman) Also on the program: short films from Argentina and the U.S. (Facets Cinematheque, 9:00)

Musical Chairs

See listing for Friday, April 4. (Three Penny, 9:00)

Paraiso B.

In Nicolas Acuna's 2002 Chilean film, a debt collector (Juan Pablo Ogalde) for a seedy bookmaker and pimp falls in love with the beautiful sister (Leonor Varela) of his best friend (Fernando Gomez Rovira). The situation is complicated when his friend, a degenerate gambler, embezzles money from the bookmaker. The young actors are persuasive, and the opening hour has some lyrical, innovative passages, but the plot loses its shape as the film progresses; in the last third it falls apart completely, devolving into bondage fantasies and misogynist violence that leave a sour taste. 90 min. (Patrick Z. McGavin) Also on the program: Paulo E. Miranda's Brazilian short Ex inferis (2002, 13 min.). (Biograph, 9:00)

Urbania

Sao Paulo in the 1940s is juxtaposed with the city today in Brazilian director Flavio Frederico's self-consciously impressionist chronicle of a journey (2001). An old man returns to the city in a chauffeur-driven convertible, while his ruminations about the lover he left behind are heard on the sound track. The man stops to talk to people on the street--a hooker, a transvestite--who offer impromptu candid confessions. The sordid urban sprawl, shown in grainy color, contrasts tritely with the elegant old neighborhoods, all in period-looking black and white. And the odd mix of fiction and documentary ultimately sheds little light on the sad-faced man who seems to be fading as quickly as his memory. In Portuguese with subtitles. 70 min. (TS) Also on the program: Patricia Riggen's Mexican short The Cornfield (2002, 27 min.). (Biograph, 9:00)

Wedding Days

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (Biograph, 9:30)

MONDAY, APRIL 7

Made in Chicago

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (Columbia College Ludington Bldg., 6:00)

The Photographer

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (Biograph, 6:30)

Hunting of Man

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (Facets Cinematheque, 7:00)

The Last Train

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (Three Penny, 7:00)

* A Lucky Day

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (Biograph, 7:00)

The Stoneraft

Adapted from a novel by Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese author Jose Saramago, this 2002 political parable is premised on a fantastic conceit: Spain and Portugal break away from Europe and float out to sea together. Magical realism is a tough thing to bring to the screen, and Dutch director George Sluizer, who wrote the screenplay with Yvette Biro, doesn't quite achieve the correct subtle balance of the mythical and sociopolitical. Still, the suspense sequences are on par with those in his best-known picture, The Vanishing, and the acting has conviction, especially veteran Federico Luppi as an old man who impregnates two women. In Spanish and Portuguese with subtitles. 100 min. (TS) (Biograph, 7:00)

Urban Poet

This amateurish digital video is supposed to be a gritty drama from the streets of Humboldt Park, but its most authentic moment is an establishing shot of a construction worker pouring cement. Gloricelly Martinez-Franceschi, who cowrote the script, stars as a young Puerto Rican woman who blossoms after getting involved in poetry slams at a local cafe. Her best friend, an aspiring musician, gets taken in by a smooth-talking record producer, and her hardworking boyfriend is caught between his union-busting boss and his angry coworkers, but both these subplots are aborted to make way for a climactic 30-minute poetry showdown whose outcome is numbingly predictable. Antonio Franceschi directed. 98 min. (JJ) Also on the program: Hugo Diogo and Nuno Jardim's Portuguese short Blue Moon (2001, 14 min.). (Northwestern Univ. Block Museum of Art, 7:00)

* Aro Tolbukhin: In the Mind of the Killer

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (Three Penny, 9:00)

The Island of Lost Children

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (Facets Cinematheque, 9:00)

Passionate People

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (Biograph, 9:00)

A Game of Cat and Mouse

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (Biograph, 9:15)

Nothing More

See listing for Sunday, April 6. (Biograph, 9:30)

TUESDAY, APRIL 8

Cat's Cradle

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (Biograph, 6:15)

Paraiso B.

See listing for Sunday, April 6. (Biograph, 6:45)

Nothing More

See listing for Sunday, April 6. (Biograph, 7:00)

Potestad

An Argentinean doctor struggles with his complicity in the political disappearances of the 70s in this 2001 psychological drama by Luis Cesar D'Angiolillo. 89 min. Also on the program: Salvador Aguirre and Alejandro Lubezki's Mexican short From Mesmer, With Love or Tea for Two (2002, 10 min.). (Dominican Univ., 7:00)

Stray Bullet

Set in the ancient Peruvian city of Cuzco, this irredeemably awful 2001 video by Aldo Salvini follows the amoral activities of five teenage "dickheads" (as they call themselves), principally the tortured and self-loathing virgin "X," who becomes obsessed with an ethereal beauty he briefly knew as a young boy. Salvini's cruel story depicts one degrading activity after another, virtually all of them perpetrated against women, and he seems strangely transfixed by the sleaze; his punishing, coercive camera plunges in on the characters' bodies and faces, offering neither relief nor perspective. 105 min. (Patrick Z. McGavin) (Facets Cinematheque, 7:00)

Urbania

See listing for Sunday, April 6. (Three Penny, 7:00)

National Stadium

See listing for Sunday, April 6. (Facets Cinematheque, 9:00)

No Turning Back

See listing for Sunday, April 6. (Biograph, 9:00)

Password

Andres Heidenreich directed this 2002 Costa Rican feature about a young girl imperiled by her exploration of the Internet. 92 min. (Three Penny, 9:00)

* The Archangel's Feather

See listing for Sunday, April 6. (Biograph, 9:15)

Fairy Tales to Put Crocodiles to Sleep

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (Biograph, 9:30)

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9

Password

See listing for Tuesday, April 8. (Univ. of Illinois at Chicago Lecture Center B2, noon)

The Inheritance

Four estranged sisters--a stiff housewife, a divorcee living in Paris, an unattached single addicted to sex and plastic surgery, and a lesbian graduate student--gather for the funeral of their mother and bicker over the sale of her apartment in Daniel Filho's fluffy 2001 comedy set in Rio de Janeiro. The script, which is filled with Dr. Phil psychologizing and Oprah moments, turns the men into buffoons and opportunists--obstacles to sisterly solidarity. The women are fun to watch when they're being bitchy, but the badly executed farcical end makes a travesty of any feminist message. In Portuguese with subtitles. 93 min. (TS) (Biograph, 6:00)

Southern Star

After years of exile in Argentina, a man returns home to Uruguay seeking peace, but his political past threatens to catch up with him in this 2002 Uruguayan-Argentinean-Spanish drama by Luis Nieto. 97 min. (Biograph, 6:30)

Choropampa: The Price of Gold

See listing for Sunday, April 6. (Three Penny, 7:00)

Hidden in Plain Sight

See listing for Sunday, April 6. (Facets Cinematheque, 7:00)

No sabe/no contesta

This 2001 Argentinean comedy directed by Fernando Musa concerns an obsessive film student who sees all of life as through a viewfinder. 90 min. Also on the program: Martin Rosete's Spanish short The Revolution (2002, 7 min.). (Biograph, 7:00)

Password

See listing for Tuesday, April 8. (Dominican Univ., 7:00)

View of the Condor

Short vignettes reveal the different approaches taken by several Colombian artists in this sensitive documentary directed by Ceclia Posada. Jose Alejandro Restrepo says one needs to use "delirious" methods to approach a "delirious" reality; Alvaro Restrepo says his dances express his "internal searchings"; Andrea Echeverry says she likes the combination of beauty and utility in ceramics; Fernando Botero says his "almost nostalgic" themes reflect his childhood and adolescence. But the film loses focus because Posada doesn't keep the artists' comments together. Several discuss how the violence in Columbia affects their work, and Botero admits that it forces him to spend much of his time out of the country. 53 min. (FC) (Facets Cinematheque, 9:00)

The Stoneraft

See listing for Monday, April 7. (Biograph, 9:00)

Vladimir in Buenos Aires

The title character (Mikhail Rojkov in a strong performance) is a Russian emigre working as a security guard and trying to adjust to a corrupt Argentinean society. This 2002 feature by Diego Gachassin follows Vladimir's affair with a part-time prostitute and his friendship with another local Russian who works as an intern, plays the saxophone, and drinks increasing amounts of vodka. Gachassin is an accomplished stylist, and the black-and-white cinematography is appropriately claustrophobic. In Spanish and Russian with subtitles. 94 min. (JR) Also on the program: Monserrat Larque's Mexican short Poison (2002, 2 min.). (Three Penny, 9:00)

Acosada en lunes de carnaval

A young Venezuelan girl endures seeing her father imprisoned by local military officials in this 2002 drama directed by Malena Roncayolo. 106 min. (Biograph, 9:15)

* Aro Tolbukhin: In the Mind of the Killer

See listing for Saturday, April 5. (Biograph, 9:30)

THURSDAY, APRIL 10

Discovering Dominga

Patricia Flynn's 2002 drama centers on an Iowa housewife still haunted by memories of her childhood in Guatemala. 58 min. Also on the program: Javier Berazaluce Maturana's Chilean Private Property (2001, 38 min.). (Richard J. Daley College, 12:30)

Carol's Journey

A restrained story about a 12-year-old tomboy from New York City who suddenly finds herself on the periphery of the Spanish civil war. Clara Lago plays Carol, a quiet but willful girl whose American father, a commercial airplane pilot, has volunteered for the International Brigades; her elegant Spanish mother returns to her native village with Carol in tow. Showing the savagery of war from the eyes of a child is a well-worn conceit, but this 2001 Spanish feature peers into the opposite end of the telescope: in one sweet but unlikely scene, Carol's father takes a break from the fall of Madrid to fly over the village and drop her a birthday gift. Imanol Uribe directed. 104 min. (JJ) Showing as part of the festival's "Night of Spain." Tickets, which also cover a reception following the film, are $25, $20 for members of ILCC and Instituto Cervantes. (Bank One, 6:00)

Urban Poet

See listing for Monday, April 7. (Biograph, 6:30)

Acosada en lunes de carnaval

See listing for Wednesday, April 9. (Three Penny, 7:00)

Neither Living, nor Dead

Set in 1980, at the time of the Argentinean military junta, this gripping 2001 feature by Victor Jorge Ruiz is a story of moral complicity, isolation, voyeurism, and loss of individuality. A Buenos Aires mathematician whose wife has been missing for two years is taken from his children by state security operatives, who install him in a building and offer to free his wife if he'll decipher wiretaps and surveillance photographs for them. His task is complicated by a mysterious woman living in the same building, whose motivation only deepens the movie's ambiguous, off-center rhythm. In English. (Patrick Z. McGavin) Also on the program: Guido Jimenez's Spanish short As Far Out as Here (From the Vatican With Love) (2002, 17 min.). (Biograph, 7:00)

Oscar Aleman: A Swinging Life

As you might guess from the banal subtitle, this 2002 documentary by Hernan Gaffet is a less than satisfying look at the intriguing Argentinean jazz guitarist and entertainer Oscar Aleman (1909-'80). Raised by an impoverished Spanish-Indian family and untrained as a musician, Aleman made a name for himself in the 30s as part of Josephine Baker's Paris orchestra (and may have been her lover); World War II drove him back to Argentina, where he eventually became even more popular. Gaffet's approach is frustrating: he provides analyses of Aleman's improvisational style but no musical illustrations, and most of the film consists of photos and talking heads with random bits of his music chugging in the background. But a few tantalizing clips show how charismatic Aleman could be as a guitarist, singer, dancer, and comic actor. 104 min. (JR) (Richard J. Daley College, 7:00)

Resistencia: hip-hop en Colombia

A British-Colombian documentary (2002) about rappers and DJs, directed by Tom Feiling. 51 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 7:00)

* A Thief and His Wife

A career criminal (Ramon Llao), sent to prison for stealing a suitcase, implores his patient and forgiving wife (Amparo Noguera) to visit him in this buoyant and graceful 2001 Chilean feature. Director Rodrigo Sepulveda has an assured, low-key style that privileges his gifted actors, and the plot reversals, with their themes of freedom and chance, are beautifully framed by the movie's deeper concern with memory and time. It's a modest work, running just 74 minutes, but the characters' emotional attraction is never in doubt. (Patrick Z. McGavin) Also on the program: Jorge C. Dorado's Spanish short Lines of Fire (2002, 20 min.). (Biograph, 7:00)

Heads or Tails

This 2003 Ecuadoran drama by Camilio Luzuriaga concerns a grown woman returning from the U.S. to the family she has not seen since childhood. 90 min. (Biograph, 9:00)

Stray Bullet

See listing for Tuesday, April 8. (Facets Cinematheque, 9:00)

* The Great Gato

Argentinean-born composer, lyricist, and singer Javier Patricio "Gato" Perez (1950-'90), who emigrated to Spain in his youth, is the subject of this engaging Spanish documentary by Ventura Pons (2002, 103 min.), in which lively performances of Perez's music are nicely juxtaposed with gab from his friends and relatives, both parts relaxed and intimate. "El Gran Gato" ("the Big Cat") synthesized Gypsy songs, Catalan rumbas, rock, and elements of South American music while adding colorful and somewhat literary lyrics, and this is a warm tribute to his talent. In Catalan with subtitles. (JR) (Three Penny, 9:30)

One or the Other

See listing for Friday, April 4. (Biograph, 9:30)

Password

See listing for Tuesday, April 8. (Biograph, 9:30)

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