Latino festival film is free in River Forest
A scene from "Neonato," screening April 16 at Dominican University.
Martin Recital Hall, Fine Arts Building, Dominican University, 7900 W. Division St., River Forest
7 p.m. April 16
For further information visit www.dom.edu or www.latinoculturalcenter.org. All films will be screened in their original language with English subtitles
Updated: April 10, 2012 9:16PM
It may be hard for west suburban dwellers to get to the Chicago Latino Film Festival, so the festival is coming, in a small way, to them. A screening of “Neonato” will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, April 16 at Dominican University in River Forest, and it’s free.
“We understand the time and transportation issues involved to come into the city for one film,” said Pepe Vargas, the festival founder, who is also director of the International Cultural Center of Chicago. Vargas hopes the sample film will encourage people to see more of the festival, which will screen a record 90 feature films from April 13 to 26 in the city. “We find people in the suburbs wanted to have a little taste of the festival so we made an extra effort and put it together,” he said.
The screening of “Neonato” will take place at the Martin Recital Hall in the Fine Arts Building, where tickets will be a first come first served basis.
“It is a very, very interesting, well done documentary,” said Vargas.
The 2011 film from Colombia is directed by Juan Camilo Ramirez, who employs a woman’s pregnancy to illustrate and explore the current state of this South American nation.
“The mother and the father are recording the story. They are creating this document as the baby evolves and lives nine months inside the mother. And they continue it for another nine months after the birth,” Vargas said. “The parents are telling the story of what the country is and what reality (the child) was about to be born into and have to face.”
Vargas said the film contains a complex political analysis with a lot of social content including marches and police confrontations. He noted that it’s also a historical document, because the filmmakers “interview people who are very knowledgeable about the Colombian situation.”
On the same program will be a 30-minute short program including “La Tuna” (“The Prickly Pear”) from Mexico, directed by Hugo Ortiz Messner, and “Sin Pais” (“Without A Country”), a Guatemalan/United States co-production directed by Theo Rigby.
“This is our largest festival ever and we try to cover all the angles,” said Vargas. “We have a lot of feature films made by women and an emphasis on first-time directors.”
He sees the 20 films by first-time directors as an encouraging sign for Latino cinema, and added, “Still, there were a lot of great films that we wanted to include, but we didn’t have the ability to program in.”
Vargas sees the festival as a way to unite local Latino communities with the idea that they are an international community. “We should learn to respect each other and understand we are different and how we can share that difference with everyone else,” he said.
The art of film is a great way to bring people together, he noted. That’s likely one reason this festival has happened for the last 38 years.
“I am working with something that is important and I truly believe is necessary,” said Vargas. “People are waiting for this festival. It is a vehicle to break stereotypes and connect to people.”