Latin American Film Festival 10
The week-long Latin American Film Festival highlights the best in new Latin American cinema.
This year’s festival is a collaboration between the Art Theater and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) at the University of Illinois. The tenth festival since its founding in 2006, it will feature nine films: seven new releases, one cult classic, and a free family-friendly film.
The 10th Latin American Film Festival Program
Dir. Catherine Fund & Daresha Kyi
Dir. Pablo Larrain
Dir. Pablo Trapero
Dir. Anna Muylaert
Dir. Peter Bratt
Dir. Jonatan Relayze Chiang
Made in Cuba: Short Film Program + Código Color, Memorias
Dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky
The Book of Life
Dir. Jorge Gutierrez
Selection committee: Anna Maria Escobar (CLACS), Kasia Szremski (CLACS), Austin McCann (The Art Theater).
An arresting portrait of Mexican music icon Chavela Vargas, the rabble-rousing, cigar-smoking lesbian iconoclast famous for bringing audiences to tears, who staged an amazing comeback at age 72 thanks in part to the efforts of filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar.
Born into Costa Rica’s middle class in 1917, Isabel Vargas Lizano seemed destined to live a life defined by heartbreak. Ostracized by family and church for not conforming to gender norms, the preternaturally gifted singer relocated to Golden Age-era Mexico City, transforming herself into Chavela and finding her voice as an androgynous, soul-baring, ranchera-singing sensation. Teaming with legendary composer Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Chavela would come to enjoy a long career as a heart-worn and impassioned voice on the sorrows of love before succumbing to an unscrupulous record industry and her own longstanding battle with alcoholism. Out of style, out of money, and with few options left, she retreated to rural Mexico, eking out a modest living before an unexpected offer brought her back to the stage and into the hearts of the lovelorn the world over. More than 25 years in the making, directors Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi’s Chavela brilliantly captures the emotional intensity of the legendary singer’s life and loves. From the iconoclast who challenged a misogynistic culture by being the most macha of all the machos to the emotionally fragile cantadora whose searing tales of the tragic end of love made her a household name, Chavela is an extraordinary portrait of an unforgettable woman. (2017, Catherine Fund & Daresha Kyi, US-Mexico-Spain, 90 min, Spanish & English with English subtitles)
Acclaimed director Pablo Larraín’s (Neruda; Jackie) taut, blackly comic commentary on individual responsibility and organized religion takes place in a secluded house in a small seaside town.
The seaside town of La Boca, Chile houses four disgraced priests and the nun who acts as their caretaker. These men have all been sentenced to a life of exile due to a past transgression. They spend their days repenting and avoiding further temptation, that is until their quiet existence is interrupted by the arrival of two guests—another disgraced clergyman and a representative from the Vatican sent to study the effects of their isolation. The presence of these men and the outside world they bring with them throws everything off balance. Secrets buried under years of prayer and quiet monotony are once again brought to the surface. The Club is acclaimed director Pablo Larrain’s taut, blackly comic commentary on individual responsibility, organized religion, and the combustible combination of the two. (2015, Pablo Larrain, Chile, 95 min, NR, Spanish with English subs)
Pablo Trapero’s thrilling political crime drama The Clan tells the true story of a middle-class family pulled into a world of kidnapping, ransom, and murder by its charismatic patriarch.
The brutal “disappearances” that marked the Videla regime in Argentina continued even after the dictator’s fall in 1981, but the motive quickly changed from politics to profit. Arquímedes Puccio—played here by a fantastically terrifying Guillermo Fancella (The Secret in Their Eyes)—kidnapped several wealthy men and women and held them for ransom in the basement of his home, using domineering control over his family and—for a time—the tacit protection of police to do so. Featuring masterfully precise camera work and an unforgettable soundtrack, Pablo Trapero’s biographical drama is an intense thrill ride that invokes the spirit of Martin Scorsese’s best crime films. (2015, Pablo Trapero, Argentina, 110 min, NR, Spanish with English subs)
THE SECOND MOTHER
Val, the perfect live-in maid to a wealthy São Paulo family, sees the power balance shift when her modern and intelligent daughter comes to stay with her while taking her college entrance exams.
Val has been the perfect live-in maid to Carlos and Barbara, the wealthy São Paulo couple who employ her to take care of their son, Fabinho, since he was a small child and tending to the house’s every need with warmth and care. She’s content in her daily routine, pleased to provide a maternal affection towards Fabinho and understanding the basic ‘rules’ of the household. When her estranged daughter, Jessica, calls to tell her she’s coming to São Paulo to take a college entrance exam, Val is thrilled. Yet when Jessica starts sitting at the family’s table, jumping in their pool, and spending too much time with Carlos, it’s clear her progressive and modern lifestyle is shifting the power balance in the household immensely. This emotional and darkly comic film illustrates the inevitable collision of old and new worlds with a tight script and a perfectly endearing, natural central performance by Regina Casé. (2015, Anna Muylaert, Brazil, 111 min, Portuguese with English subtitles)
Dolores Huerta fought tirelessly alongside Cesar Chavez for racial and labor justice and is among the most important activists in American history, yet she remains little-known. Dolores gives this enigmatic, intensely private, and defiant feminist the spotlight she deserves.
An “energetic, engaging documentary”—Dennis Harvey, Variety
Director Peter Bratt follows the life of civil-rights icon Dolores Huerta in this documentary, constructed significantly from archival footage from the 1960s and 1970s. This character study on the “most vocal activist no one has ever heard of” follows Huerta as she rejected the standard 1950s-housewife role and put her life on display to drive home the fight for racial, class, and gender equality. While Cesar Chavez is often thought to be the mastermind behind the Agricultural Workers Associations (later known as the United Farm Workers), Huerta was in fact the instigator. She was eventually pushed to defend her rights as a woman when she was subsequently forced to leave the union she helped establish. Juggling her responsibilities as a mother of 11, she was a key leader in the 1965 Delano Grape Strike, which compelled 17 million Americans to boycott grapes to bring attention to the plight of farm workers. Dolores Huerta lived her life overshadowed by men, but is now celebrated as a role model in feminism and the fight for equality. (2017, Peter Bratt, US, 95 min, Spanish and English with English subtitles)
Rosa is a mature police officer who is forced to take care of her grandson after her daughter steals her savings. Everything takes a wrong turn one night. Only a miracle can save her.
It is the middle of October in the city of Lima, Peru. “The purple month” is a time for processions to commemorate the Lord of Miracles, the most widely venerated image of Christ in the city. Rosa Chumbe is a middle-aged police officer with both a gambling and drinking problem. She lives with her daughter, Sheyla, who has a little baby. One day, after a big fight between them, Sheyla steals her mother’s savings and storms out of the house, leaving her baby behind. Sheyla chooses to confront her own troubles alone, leaving Rosa to spend time with her grandson. This interaction provokes a change in Rosa’s hardened heart. But everything takes a wrong turn one night, and only a miracle can save her. (2016, Jonatan Relayze Chiang, Peru, 75 min, Spanish with English subtitles)
MADE IN CUBA Short Film Program + CÓDIGO COLOR, MEMORIAS
MADE IN CUBA features three affecting Cuban short documentaries* presented by the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program in collaboration with La Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV & The Guardian multimedia program. These docs play with CODIGO COLOR, MEMORIAS, which explores the complex issue of racism through the memories of the picturesque city of Santiago de Cuba. The film approaches the subject from a new perspective using a powerful visual language. Color creates the narrative flow, combined with eloquent archival images, CODIGO COLOR manages to transport the viewer to the 1950’s, a decisive period in Cuban history. In these complex times, it offers a unique prism on our past, helping us to understand the ways we see, judge and appreciate our relationship to color, and the color of skin. (80 min, Various Directors, Cuba, 75 min, NR, Spanish with English subtitles)
*House for Sale (Casa en Venta) After more than 50 years, the ban on individuals in Cuba selling their houses was lifted in 2011. Three Cubans invite us into their homes—full of memories, souvenirs, and family members—to hear their “sales pitch.”
ETECSA—Cuba’s only telephone company—installed Wi-Fi routers in 18 public parks in 2016. For many Cubans, this meant being able to go online for the first time. This film shows us how Cubans of all ages initially explore social media, online dating, and more.
Great Muy Bien
The United States restored diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015, making it no longer unrealistic for Cubans to dream of one day living and working abroad. Cubans of all ages and diverse aspirations enroll at the makeshift Big Ben English school in Havana.
From cult Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky comes Santa Sangre, a provocative psychedelic journey featuring the director’s signature touches of violence, vulgarity, and an oddly personal moral center.
Fifteen years after Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo and The Holy Mountain unlocked our collective third eye, the legendary provocateur made his ‘80s comeback with this staggering odyssey of ecstasy, anguish, belief, blasphemy, beauty and madness. Santa Sangre continues to enrapture both Jodorowsky newbies and dedicated fans like with its tale of a young circus performer, the crime of passion that shatters his soul, and a macabre journey back to the world of his armless mother. (1989, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Italy-Mexico, R, 125 min, DCP)
“A movie like none other I have seen before…a film in which the inner chambers of the soul are laid bare.” — Roger Ebert (Great Movies List)
SMART KIDS (Free Screening)
BOOK OF LIFE
An animated journey through the Day of the Dead, The Book of Life takes on the journey of Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart. Good for ages 7+.
FREE SCREENING as part of Smart Kids/Niños Brillartes!
From producer Guillermo del Toro and director Jorge Gutierrez comes an animated comedy with a unique visual style. The Book of Life is the journey of Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart. Before choosing which path to follow, he embarks on an incredible adventure that spans three fantastical worlds where he must face his greatest fears. Director Jorge Gutierrez’s film wears its affection for Mexican art and culture, English-language pop music, and animation itself on its sleeve. It like a great party—filled with wondrous decorations, interesting people, lots of fun, and a valuable message about the holiday. (2014, Jorge Gutierrez, US-Mexico, 95 min, PG)