The International Latino Cultural Center presents the 23rd Chicago Latino Film Festival, with screenings Friday, April 13, through Thursday, April 26, at Chicago History Museum, Facets Cinematheque, Landmark’s Century Centre, Pipers Alley, and smaller venues throughout the city and suburbs. Unless otherwise noted, tickets are $9-$10, and a festival pass, good for ten screenings, is $80. Discounts are available for students, seniors, the disabled, and ILCC members. For ticket orders or additional screenings visit latinocultural
center.org or call 312-409-1757. Unless otherwise noted, all screenings are in English or subtitled Spanish.
Acme & Co. Felix and Edmundo Padilla, a father and son who screened movies along the Tex-Mex border during the silent era, are the subjects of this 2006 documentary by Gregorio Rocha. 92 min. a Pipers Alley, 6 PM.
A Place Within A newspaper reporter decides to declare his feelings to a woman he’s loved since high school, but their date is cut short when she’s called away by her business partner; after she vanishes without a trace, his search for her yields few clues, as everyone who knew her disavows her existence. Directed by Andres Ramirez, this 2006 Puerto Rican thriller mimics the style and tone of its Hollywood counterparts, dispensing a variety of implausible plot developments and a denouement that explains them all away. 83 min. (JK)
a Facets Cinematheque, 6 PM.
Mauricio’s Diary A Cuban widower marks his 60th birthday in this 2006 drama by Manuel Perez. 135 min. a Chicago History Museum, 7 PM. Tickets for this opening-night screening and reception are $75, $65 for ILCC members.
Bajo Juarez: The City Devouring Its Daughters This 2006 documentary by Alejandra Sanchez looks at the hundreds of women mysteriously murdered in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez. 96 min. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 8:30 PM.
Rough Winds A middle-aged man arrives in Cadiz hoping to forget his affair with his brother’s wife and the brother’s subsequent death. Gerardo Herrero directed this 2005 Spanish feature. 117 min. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 8:30 PM.
Shared Secrets A serial killer in Buenos Aires befriends a pickup artist in this 1998 Argentinean thriller by Alberto Lecchi, recipient of this year’s lifetime achievement award. 97 min. a Pipers Alley, 8:30 PM.
Shut Up and Do It A young man incensed by the movies’ portrayal of Latinos sets out to make his own independent feature in this 2006 feature by Bruno Irizarry. 84 min. a Facets Cinematheque, 8:30 PM.
Cheese Head–My First Ghetto Ariel Winograd directed this autobiographical coming-of-age story (2006) centering on a Jewish country club in Buenos Aires. 80 min. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 3:30 PM.
Get Pony Boy An ex-con returns to his old neighborhood to find it greatly changed in this 2006 drama by Juan Frausto. 95 min. a Facets Cinematheque, 3:30 PM.
When the Waves Break A boy learns that his grandmother always wanted to attend the annual rose dance and sets out to make her dream come true. Riccardo Gabrielli directed this 2006 Colombian feature. 95 min. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 4 PM.
Latino Art Beat A 30-minute program of short works. a Facets Cinematheque, 4 PM.
The Salt in the Wound Alberto Lecchi directed this 1996 Spanish-Argentinean coproduction about two Spanish actors who take their political play on tour after it flops in Buenos Aires. 115 min. a Pipers Alley, 4 PM.
The Clown Usually clowns leave me cold, but this engaging if slight 2006 drama from Puerto Rico earns points for its naturalism while firing some well-aimed satirical shots at multinational corporations. A disgruntled clown (Israel Lugo) runs away from the circus, abandoning his down-and-out colleagues while he pursues his big break in San Juan as a fast-food spokesman. Easy money and a new romance begin to turn the hero into an insufferable jerk when he gets a smackdown from reality. Under the direction of Pedro Adorno Irizarry and Emilio Rodriguez, the lyrical circus sequences elevate art over marketing, and Lugo’s aquiline face and supple body are highly expressive. 104 min. (AG) a Landmark’s Century Centre, 6 PM.
Filmmakers in Action Though awkwardly assembled and occasionally obscure, this 2005 Spanish documentary by Carlos Benpar is an eye-opener, showing how filmmakers in Europe try to protect their work from censorship, colorizing, dubbing, pan and scan, and other defacements. Benpar explains the differences between artists’ legal rights in the U.S. and overseas: for instance, director Jean-Pierre Marchand successfully sued a French TV channel for placing a logo on his film, and though Sydney Pollack lost a suit against a Danish TV channel for panning and scanning his wide-screen Three Days of the Condor, the court issued a stern rebuke to the U.S. laws that permitted the practice. Among the other interviewees are Woody Allen, Bernardo Bertolucci, John Boorman, Arthur Penn, Martin Scorsese, Claude Chabrol, Salvador Dali, Bigas Luna, Pere Portabella, and a 91-year-old Jules Dassin. 106 min. (JR)
a Facets Cinematheque, 6 PM.
Latino Art Beat A 30-minute program of short works. a Facets Cinematheque, 6 PM.
Mezcal Various haunted characters take up residence in a mystical cantina in this 2006 Mexican feature by Ignacio Ortiz Cruz. 90 min. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 6:30 PM.
The 12 Jobs An intriguing premise soon fizzles in this 2006 Brazilian drama loosely based on the myth of Hercules. In modern Sao Paulo, young ex-con Heracles (Sidney Santiago) lands a job as a bike messenger, but to keep it he must perform all his assigned tasks perfectly on the first day. For someone who’s so concerned about not screwing up, he takes a lot of risks, making a drug delivery for another messenger and some unauthorized trips to help a frenzied client and her daughter. Because his actions never seem to carry any consequences, the film fails to build satisfactorily to its climax, a scene so arbitrary it feels like a cheat. Ricardo Elias directed. In Portuguese with subtitles. 90 min. (AG) a Pipers Alley, 6:30 PM.
Intinahul–In the Eye of the Sun Klaus Schrefler directed this 2006 short, an Austrian-Ecuadoran coproduction that examines the cycle of life. 30 min. a Facets Cinematheque, 7 and 8 PM.
Some Kind of Sadness A Peruvian art film (2006) by Juan Alejandro Ramirez. 41 min. a Facets Cinematheque, 8:30 PM.
Fiction A middle-aged screenwriter, hoping for artistic inspiration, leaves Barcelona for the Catalan Pyrenees. Cesc Gya directed this 2006 Spanish feature. 107 min. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 9 PM.
The Girl on the Stone Marisa Sistach and Jose Buil directed this 2006 Mexican feature about a teenager scheming to get even with the girl who rejected him. 104 min. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 9 PM.
Through Your Eyes An Argentinean businessman and his dominant, diabetic wife embark on a long-awaited pleasure trip to New York City, where a slice of chocolate cake puts her in the hospital and leaves him without an English interpreter as he struggles to manage the situation. Directed by Rodrigo Furth, this 2006 drama unfolds in a city of unfeeling institutions and kindly strangers who take up the husband’s cause (a Latino bellhop at the couple’s hotel, a sympathetic nurse at the hospital). That sort of dualism may seem sentimental, but Furth complicates the story’s morality when the husband, trying to share some of the kindness he’s been shown with a Russian immigrant, does more harm than good. 102 min. (JJ) a Pipers Alley, 9 PM.
Fiction See listing for Sat 4/14. a Pipers Alley, 3:30 PM.
Resisting Life Ramon Cervantes directed this 2006 Mexican drama about a widow and her three daughers. 99 min. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 3:30 PM.
Latino Art Beat A 30-minute program of short works. a Facets Cinematheque 4 PM.
Nothing to Lose A high-living young couple resort to insurance scams and blackmail to pay their debts in this 1993 Argentinean feature by Alberto Lecchi. 93 min. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 4 PM.
Welcome Back to the Barrio A straitlaced Mexican-American college student returns to his Chicago neighborhood after a five-year absence and encounters his former best friend, a trash-talking drug dealer, who seduces him into a wild night on the town. Trouble ensues as they run afoul of a local gang leader who’s recruited the student’s kid brother. Directed by Jaime Mariscal, this low-budget 2006 feature makes good use of assorted locations, which are more memorable than the cast; one exception is Ramses Jimenez, providing the requisite swagger as the hero’s buddy. 107 min. (JK) a Facets Cinematheque, 4 PM.
Latino Art Beat A 30-minute program of short works. a Facets Cinematheque, 6 PM.
The Trial A teenage girl sets off in search of her missing father in this 2006 feature by Judith Velez, a Spanish-Cuban-Peruvian coproduction. 103 min. a Pipers Alley, 6 PM.
Cheese Head–My First Ghetto See listing for Sat 4/14. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 6:30 PM.
The Railroad All-Stars Three Guatemalan prostitutes, hoping to win some respect, launch a soccer team. Chema Rodriguez directed this 2006 feature. 90 min. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 6:30 PM.
A Place Within See listing for Fri 4/13. a Facets Cinematheque, 6:30 PM.
Intinahui–In the Eye of the Sun See listing for Sat 4/14. a Facets Cinematheque, 7 and 8 PM.
Bajo Juarez: The City Devouring Its Daughters See listing for Fri 4/13. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 8:30 PM.
Nuts for Love Two Argentinean teenagers fall in love at a rock concert despite their differing backgrounds and spend the next 25 years periodically rekindling their affair and then returning to their prior obligations. As director Alberto Lecchi hints on occasion, their on-again-off-again romance parallels the relationship between Argentineans and democracy, but politics is never pushed to the foreground in this 2000 drama, a Spanish-Argentinean coproduction. This is that rare romance that rings true by avoiding both false sweetness and excessive pathos; in their stubborn, tentative relations with one another, actors Gaston Pauls and Ariadna Gil seem completely genuine. 103 min. (TS) a Pipers Alley, 8:30 PM.
Rough Winds See listing for Fri 4/13. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 9 PM.
Shut Up and Do It See listing for Fri 4/13. a Facets Cinematheque, 9 PM.
Acme & Co. See listing for Fri 4/13. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 6 PM.
The Clown See listing for Sat 4/14. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 6 PM.
RThe Dog Pound Spending his summer in a haze of pot smoke, a 25-year-old university dropout takes care of his father’s cottage while fitfully building his own ramshackle house down the road. This amiably meandering 2006 comedy drama by Uruguayan writer-director Manuel Nieto Zas chronicles the stoner protagonist’s torpor and ennui yet never becomes boring itself, which is quite a feat. Enduring his father’s repeated diatribes about his lack of ambition, the hero tries to fit in with a group of local men who help with his construction project when they’re not busy getting high. Gradually he comes to accept his sense of isolation as he groggily contemplates his prospects. 110 min. (JK) a Pipers Alley, 6 PM.
Filmmakers in Action See listing for Sat 4/14. a Facets Cinematheque, 6 PM.
The Girl on the Stone See listing for Sat 4/14. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 8:30 PM.
To Colombia Ryan Byrne directed this 2006 drama about two addicted friends traveling to the title country. 100 min. a Facets Cinematheque, 8:30 PM.
The 12 Jobs See listing for Sat 4/14. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 9 PM.
Mezcal See listing for Sat 4/14. a Pipers Alley, 9 PM.
Inside the Circle Marcy Garriott directed this dramatic feature about hip-hop dancers in Texas. 102 min. a Facets Cinematheque, 6 PM.
Nuts for Love See listing for Sun 4/15. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 6 PM.
Resisting Life See listing for Sun 4/15. a Pipers Alley, 6 PM.
The Near East Two Spanish brothers clash over a Bangladeshi woman in Fernando Colomo’s 2006 feature. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 6:30 PM.
RColossal Youth Most or all of Pedro Costa’s films reside in a netherworld between documentary and fiction, and the two I’ve seen are awesome. Where Lies Your Hidden Smile? (2001), an account of Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet editing one of their films, feels very intimate, though they were also being observed by students (whose presence is elided by Costa). And the exquisitely composed, naturally lit chiaroscuro of Colossal Youth (2006), shot in the surviving ruins of one Lisbon slum and around a high-rise in another, combines realism and expressionism, Louis Lumiere and Jacques Tourneur. It was cowritten by the nonprofessional, marginal, mainly nonwhite cast; rehearsed and shot in multiple takes; then edited down from 320 hours to 155 minutes over a period of 15 months. It’s unlike anything else I’ve seen–mysterious, exalted, demanding, leisurely paced, and very beautiful–and you’re bound to either love it or hate it. In Portuguese with subtitles. (JR) a Landmark’s Century Centre, 8:30 PM.
Some Kind of Sadness See listing for Sat 4/14. a Facets Cinematheque, 8:30 PM.
The Trial See listing for Sun 4/15. a Pipers Alley, 8:30 PM.
RThe Dog Pound See listing for Mon 4/16. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 9 PM.
Welcome Back to the Barrio See listing for Sun 4/15. a Facets Cinematheque, 10 PM.
RChildren of the War This alarming documentary looks at the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, a fearsome street gang that was founded in LA by refugees of the Salvadoran civil war and now stretches across the U.S. and Central America. Graphic video footage testifies to the gang’s murderous wrath, and comments from Robert Clifford, director of the FBI’s task force on MS-13, don’t inspire much confidence in the feds’ ability to combat the problem. Director Alexandre Fuchs shows how the gang has usurped the roles of family and government for poor, disenfranchised Latino immigrants, though his left-wing slant leads to some rather convoluted judgments: President Reagan is fingered as the father of MS-13 for his support of the Salvadoran junta, yet the end credits pay tribute to Ernesto Miranda, one of the gang’s actual founders, who went straight and was gunned down two months after Fuchs interviewed him. 81 min. (JJ) a Facets Cinematheque, 6 PM.
The Salt in the Wound See listing for Sat 4/14. a Pipers Alley, 6 PM.
To Play and to Fight Directed by Alberto Arvelo, this 2006 documentary looks at the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra System, which trains young musicians in remote towns. 70 min. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 6 PM.
Mezcal See listing for Sat 4/14. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 6:30 PM.
The Near East See listing for Tue 4/17. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 8:30 PM.
Through Your Eyes See listing for Sat 4/14. a Pipers Alley, 8:30 PM.
To Colombia See listing for Mon 4/16. a Facets Cinematheque, 8:30 PM.
The Railroad All-Stars See listing for Sun 4/15. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 9 PM.
The Colombian Dream In this 2005 drug caper from Colombia, young slackers steal a large shipment of hallucinogenic pills and try to cash in on it. Carlos Sanchez Mendez’s jittery handheld camerawork, complete with wide-angle and fish-eye lenses, contributes to the disorienting, spaced-out visual style, while the bizarre voice-over narration from an aborted baby, speaking omnisciently as an adult, serves mostly to clarify an increasingly convoluted plot. Writer-director Felipe Aljure does have something eloquent to say about the connection between drugs, greed, and capitalism. 120 min. (JK) a Landmark’s Century Centre, 6 PM.
Inside the Circle See listing for Tue 4/17. a Facets Cinematheque, 6 PM.
Sing Maria This Brazilian western set in the 30s might have worked with a stronger leading lady, but Vanessa Giacomo lacks the skill to make the widowed heroine decipherable. Barely through mourning, the young beauty falls for a rough, shabby wrangler (Marco Ricca) who’s more at ease with horses than with women. His nephew lusts after her, the gossiping townspeople scheme against her, and the freakish outlaw Lampiao (Jose Wilker of Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands) keeps popping up to chew the scenery. Writer-director Francisco Ramalho Jr. has a light touch with offbeat supporting characters but reduces the real-life Lampiao’s legend to a mere backdrop for this lusterless 2006 romance. In Portuguese with subtitles. 95 min. (AG) a Pipers Alley, 6 PM.
Apocalipsur A young Colombian travels to London to escape the Medellin cartel in this 2006 feature by Javier Mejia. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 6:30 PM.
Fugue A young composer, traumatized by the death of his sister, wrestles with an unfinished melody in this 2006 Chilean feature by Pablo Llarain. 110 min.
a Pipers Alley, 8:30 PM.
Mario’s Story Jeff Werner and Susan Koch directed this 2006 feature about an East LA teenager unjustly imprisoned for murder. 98 min. a Facets Cinematheque, 8:30 PM.
A Ton of Luck Four soldiers on jungle patrol uncover a bag with $46 left behind by the FARC in this Colombian drama by Rodrigo Triana. 96 min. a Landmark’s Century Centre, 8:30 PM.
REl Benny Spanning the period of the Batista regime and the Cuban revolution, this 2006 feature recalls Andy Garcia’s The Lost City, but it’s more vivid, thanks to Renny Arozarena’s dynamic performance as Havana crooner Benny More. Though More claimed he was just a “countryside boy,” he was a perfectionist with an outsize ego and a healthy appetite for alcohol and women. Writer-director Jorge Luis Sanchez spices up this biopic with mystical elements (Santeria rituals, a nurse who doubles as the angel of death), but it’s Arozarena who breathes life into the genre conventions. Whether gyrating on stage, swaggering before a rival, or struck nearly dumb by love, he projects an intensity that explains Benny’s fitful ascent. Putamayo recording artist Juan Manuel Villy Carbonell dubbed the songs. 126 min. (AG) a Landmark’s Century Centre, 9 PM.
I Remember Fellini fans might enjoy this nostalgic 2005 feature about a Brazilian boy growing up among assorted eccentrics in the Bahian city of Salvador in the 50s. The movie’s first half has a madcap feel, as the central character shows a pronounced interest in sex even as a young child, copping a feel of his mother’s breasts and playing tent under her skirt. Despite the admonitions of the church, sex fills the air, just as political strife will a decade later when the government cracks down on the nascent civil rights movement. The movie loses momentum during the protagonist’s hippie period, and his prolonged experiments with drugs seem to play out in real time. Writer-director Edgard Navarro is something of a late bloomer; he made this autobiographical debut feature at 57. In Portuguese with subtitles. 110 min. (AG) a Facets Cinematheque, 10:30 PM.
For more on movies, see our blog On Film at chicagoreader.com.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Children of the War.