The poster for the upcoming 34th edition of the Chicago Latino Film Festival speaks volumes. Designed by Jorge Pomareda, the graphic shows a wall (presumably at the US-Mexico border) having been cracked open by a road paved with film. “I used the visual metaphor of a filmstrip breaking through these natural and man-made barriers in order to connect cultures,” he shared. That’s as perfect a message for this long-running film fest as any. Current rhetoric and politics cannot match the power of cinematic storytelling and this year’s CLFF has rounded up a list of programs that hope to build bridges and break down walls. In fact, its Closing Night film (the Ricardo Darín starrer La cordillera) is set at a Latin American summit while its Opening Night event (Raúl Marchand Sánchez’s Broche De Oro: Comienzos) is set to celebrate Puerto Rico in all its glory.

With over 100 films being screened over two weeks, we know it’s hard to see everything. So we’ve come up with a dozen titles that merely scratch the surface of what’s on offer. But whether you’re looking for a Danny Trejo slasher pic, a cross-cultural rom-com, or an animated feminist flick, CLFF has you covered. Check out our top picks below.

Chicago Latino Film Festival runs April 5 – 19, 2018.

1

Nuyorican Básquet

Country Puerto Rico
Production Year 2017
nuyorican_basquet_still000-1024x531
'Nuyorican Basquet' Courtesy of Miami Film Festival
nuyorican_basquet_still005-1024x526
Courtesy of Miami Film Festival
Synopsis

A celebration of cultural confluences on and off the court, Nuyorican Básquet chronicles the dramatic story of the Puerto Rican national basketball team’s participation in the 1979 Pan American Games. Boasting a totally unique approach to the game, the Puerto Rican team had the curious distinction of being composed largely of players born in New York City, which generated questions about the nature of diasporic identity. Regardless of their birthplace, these ferociously talented nuyoricans became a source of fascination and pride for Puerto Rico during a time of high political tensions. Shifting energetically between new interviews with athletes and experts and fantastic archival materials showing off the team’s dazzling technique and teamwork, Nuyorican Básquet is a thrilling, colorful testament to the ability of sports to dissolve boundaries and a loving homage to that magical Puerto Rico-NYC alchemy.


Film Details

Director Julio César Torres Ricardo Olivero Lora
Country Puerto Rico
Genre Sports Documentary
Writer Julio César Torres Ricardo Olivero Lora
Producer Freddie Marrero Alfonso
Production Year 2017
Running Time 108 minutes
2

Virus Tropical

Country Colombia
Production Year 2017
Virus Tropical AFICHE 01
'Virus Tropical' still courtesy of Animation is Film Festival
AFICHE 02
'Virus Tropical' still courtesy of Animation is Film Festival
Synopsis

Adapted from a graphic novel memoir by Colombian-Ecuadorian cartoonist Paola Gaviria (aka Power Paola), the black and white, Spanish-language animated film features Paola (voiced by María Cecilia Sánchez), an exceptional and independent young girl who grew up between Ecuador and Colombia and is trying to find her place in the world. But growing up in a traditional Colombian family with an estranged priest as a father, a psychic as a mother and two older sisters, gives Paola a unique perspective on life, which shapes her personality. It is reported that this coming-of-age, adult-themed animation contains approximately 5,000 individual drawings created by Gaviria.

Kiko Martinez

Film Details

Director Santiago Caicedo
Country Colombia
Genre Animation
Writer Enrique Lozano
Producer Carolina Barrera Quevedo
Production Year 2017
Running Time 97 minutes
3

Voices Beyond the Wall: Twelve Poems from the Murder Capital of the World

Director Brad Coley
Country Honduras
Production Year 2016
Synopsis

Over the last quarter-century, in a bunker-like building in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, 70 girls ranging in age from one to 18 have found refuge from poverty and violence. Our Little Roses is Honduras’ only orphanage for girls. Its charges are looked after by a devoted staff who supply food, shelter, medical attention and nurturing care. The debut documentary from filmmaker Brad Coley is a moving, eye-opening tribute to the courageous work performed at Our Little Roses. Voices Beyond the Wall tracks the long and difficult process of recovering from trauma, healing deep wounds, and preparing for a better future.


Film Details

Director Brad Coley
Country Honduras
Genre Documentary
Producer Cassidy Friedman
Production Year 2016
Running Time 87 minutes
4

La cordillera

Production Year 2017
La cordillera Ricardo Darín
'La cordillera' Courtesy of Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2017
summit_05
Courtesy of TIFF 2017
summit_01
Courtesy of TIFF 2017
Synopsis

Returning to the political realm after his briskly paced 2011 debut The Student, Santiago Mitre’s timely third feature, The Summit, explores behind-the-scenes facets of political power and the solitary aspects of the presidential office. Hernán Blanco (an impeccably nuanced performance by Ricardo Darín) faces his first presidential challenge at a South American summit aimed at creating an oil-trade pact for the region. Matters are complicated by backstage family issues that threaten to erode Blanco’s everyman veneer.


Film Details
5

As boas maneiras

Country France, Brazil
Production Year 2017
Good Manners 01
'Good Manners' still courtesy of AFI Fest
Good Manners 02
Courtesy of AFI Fest
Synopsis

Bathed in the blue hues of full moonlit nights, this Brazilian werewolf horror film follows Clara, a nurse from the outskirts of São Paulo who takes a job as a nanny for a well-to-do pregnant young woman. What starts as a regular caretaker gig soon takes a turn for the weird when the woman’s odd cravings for red meat and late-night sleepwalking strolls reveal that there may be something unnatural about her pregnancy. Eerie and shot with a lurid formalism that makes it all the scarier (São Paulo’s nights have looked more frightening), Good Manners delivers on its chills and thrills.

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details
Good Manners
Director Marco Dutra Juliana Rojas
Country France Brazil
Genre Fantasy Horror
Writer Marco Dutra Juliana Rojas
Production Year 2017
Running Time 135 minutes
6

El Inca

Country Venezuela
Production Year 2016
El Inca 02
'El Inca' courtesy of Miami Film Festival
Synopsis

Based on the story of undefeated two-time World Boxing Champion Edwin Valero, El Inca is a powerhouse biographical drama about talent and charisma, love and ambition, excess and self-destruction. Valero, aka “El Inca,” rose from humble Andean roots to international celebrity by defeating one rival after another — he set a world record by winning his first 18 fights with a first-round knockout. But as Valero’s professional life bloomed, his personal life began to stagger, with insecurities leading to marital infidelities and perilous addiction. These are aspects of Valero’s life that still spark controversy: following a brief, successful theatrical run, the Venezuelan Government removed the film from theaters. El Inca tells of an exhilarating rise, a tragic fall, and the riveting displays of athletic mastery in between.


Film Details

Director Ignacio Castillo Cottin
Country Venezuela
Genre Biopic
Writer Ignacio Castillo Cottin Ada Hernández
Producer Nathalie Sar-Shalom
Production Year 2016
Running Time 128 minutes
7

Broche de Oro: Comienzos

Country Puerto Rico
Production Year 2017
Broche de Oro Comienzos
Courtesy of CLFF
broche de oro 59bc3f1fb6746.image
'Broche de oro' still courtesy of IPRHFF
Synopsis

Find out how the naughty trio of Rafael, Pablo and Anselmo became best friends in this hilarious and touching prequel to Puerto Rico’s box office smash hit, Broche de Oro. Rafael (Jacobo Morales) reluctantly accepts to be sent to a nursing home by his son after his wife’s death. There he meets Pablo (Diego de la Texera), a man with delusions of being a Don Juan, and hypochondriac Anselmo (a riotous turn from Adrián García). With the help of a trio of women nicknamed “The Greeks” (Charytín Goyco, Georgina Borri y Noelia Crespo), they liven up what would otherwise be a routinary existence. The rare prequel that works as a stand-alone story, Broche de Oro: Beginnings far surpasses the original in its wit and poignancy.

 


Film Details
Broche de Oro: Beginnings
Director Raúl Marchand Sánchez
Country Puerto Rico
Genre Comedy
Writer Raúl Marchand Sánchez
Producer Frances Lausell Joe Ramos
Production Year 2017
Running Time 87 minutes
8

La novia del desierto

Country Chile, Argentina
Production Year 2017
Synopsis

Paulina García (Gloria, Little Men) delivers another warm and sympathetic performance in Cecilia Atán’s and Valeria Pivato’s feature debut. García plays Teresa, a woman who has worked all her life as a live-in maid for a Buenos Aires family who is left adrift after the family sells their house. On her way to a new job in a distant town, Teresa loses her bags with all her belongings. She searches for them with the help of traveling salesman El Gringo and ends up finding love and her own potential.


Film Details
The Desert Bride
Director Cecilia Atán Valeria Pivato
Country Chile Argentina
Genre Drama
Production Year 2017
Running Time 78 minutes
9

Atrás hay relámpagos

Country Costa Rica
Production Year 2017
Lightning-Falls-Behind
'Lightning Falls Behind' still courtesy of Film Society of Lincoln Center
Synopsis

Nothing gives best friends Sole and Ana greater pleasure than riding their BMX bikes all over the city and executing stunts with them with friends Frank, Gato and Lou. Sole’s and Ana’s friendship is put to the test when both girls find some old cars and a body in Sole’s grandmother’s garden. Julio Hernández Cordón’s follow-up to his critically acclaimed I Promise You Anarchy is another powerful verité-like portrait of carefree, alienated youth.

 


Film Details
Lightning Falls Behind
Director Julio Hernández Cordón
Country Costa Rica
Genre Drama
Writer Julio Hernández Cordón
Producer Adriana Alvarez Natalia Arias Julio Hernández Cordón Amaya Izquierdo
Production Year 2017
Running Time 87 minutes
10

En algún lugar

Director Tadeo Garcia
Production Year 2017
En Algun Lugar
Courtesy of CLFF
Synopsis

Social worker Abel and auto mechanic Diego have waited for too long to fall in love with the right partner; not even Diego’s undocumented status can stop a relationship that was meant to be. But when word reaches Diego that his mother is dying, Abel resolves to be his partner in the truest sense of the word, accompanying him back to Mexico even though Diego will not be guaranteed re-entry to the country. What starts as a tender love story turns into a harrowing tale as both try to figure a way to cross back.


Film Details

Director Tadeo Garcia
Country United States
Genre Drama
Writer Tadeo Garcia
Producer Michael J. Sanow Aric Jackson
Production Year 2017
Running Time 112 minutes
11

Murder in the Woods

Director Luis Iga
Production Year 2017
Murder in the Woods -Trejo
'Murder in the Woods' still courtesy of Chicago Latino Film Festival
Synopsis

Danny Trejo stars in this slasher tale written by Chicago writer Yelyna Leon and directed by Mexican filmmaker Luis Iga about a group of Latino teens who, in the grand tradition of the Friday the 13th series, decide to spend a weekend in a mysterious cabin in the woods. Unbeknownst to them, the cabin was the site of an apparent murder-suicide more than a decade ago and soon things, and bodies, begin to go bump in the night.

 


Film Details

Director Luis Iga
Country United States
Genre Horror
Writer Yelyna De Leon
Production Year 2017
Running Time 88 minutes
12

American Curious

Director Gabylu Lara
Country Mexico
Production Year 2017
American Curious
Courtesy of CLFF
Synopsis

Jordan Belfi (Grey’s Anatomy, Entourage), Ana Claudia Talancón and Isela Vega star in this romantic comedy about a Chicago-based stand-up comedian, David Green, who finds out that the Mexican biological mother he never knew has passed away and left him a restaurant in Mexico City. David travels to Mexico where, with the help of Sol, the restaurant’s chef, he embarks on a journey in search of his roots and the secret recipe for a soup created by his mother.

 


Film Details

Director Gabylu Lara
Country Mexico
Genre Romantic Comedy Comedy
Writer Ricardo Aguado Gabylu Lara
Producer Monica Vargas Celis Leonardo Zimbrón
Production Year 2017
Running Time 85 minutes