The 38th annual Chicago Latino Film Festival starts Thursday. The hybrid festival will feature nearly 100 feature-length and short films from places like Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and beyond.
Over 10 days, audiences can enjoy films in-person, at the drive-in or from the comfort of their own homes.
“There is nothing like that communal experience of watching a film with others and then talking about it with friends,” Pepe Vargas, founder and executive director of the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, said in a statement. “These titles … are not only conversation starters but a testament to the will and determination of Latino filmmakers worldwide in these difficult times.”
The event will also highlight local filmmakers, including the world premiere of Bye Bye Chicago from Roma Díaz alongside Enrique Gaona, Jr. on the festival’s closing day.
Díaz, the founder of the Tecolote Theater Company, is a Chicago-based Mexican playwright and director. His fiction feature debut, which will show both in-person and on streaming, is billed as a “compassionate, deeply moving story about the friendship between an aging, dying Mexican immigrant and a young Colombian college student.”
The Costa Rican documentary 130 Children will also make its world premiere at this year’s festival. Several other films will be shown for the first time in the states or make their Midwest debut.
The festival will close with the Midwest premiere of Chilean director Francisca Alegría’s The Cow Who Sang a Song into the Future.
“Since the beginning, the Chicago Latino Film Festival has showcased films that speak to the experiences of marginalized communities across the Americas, particularly Indigenous and Afro-Latino communities,” Vargas said in a statement.
The in-person screenings will take place at the Landmark Century Centre, but for those movie fans hesitant about in-person events or who just prefer a more relaxed setting, there are also drive-in screenings happening at ChiTown Movies. And virtual screenings are accessible to residents of several Midwest states.
The festival is noncompetitive, although attendees do have the chance to vote for their favorite films across several categories for the Audience Choice Awards, which will be announced on May 4.
Courtney Kueppers is a digital producer/reporter at WBEZ. Follow her @cmkueppers.