The Best of Latin American Cinema: 5 Films from the CLFF.(English version)

The 39th edition of the Chicago Latino Film Festival has become one of the city’s most important film festivals. One notable feature this year was the large number of films directed and written by women, highlighting the importance of talented women in the film industry. It’s also worth noting that the festival received a total of 350 short films and 200 feature-length films, carefully selecting 35 short films and 51 feature-length films to showcase this year.

The festival has become a reflection of the quality of art films produced in Latin America, Spain, and Portugal. The films presented in this edition have shown a wide variety of genres, themes, and styles, allowing audiences to enjoy a diverse, fresh, and interesting cinematic experience. As one of the most important events in Chicago, it was characterized by a youthful and dynamic atmosphere, encouraging actors and directors to engage with the audience to share impressions and perspectives on their films, fostering a close relationship between participants.

In summary, the 39th edition of the Chicago Latino Film Festival has been an enriching and exciting experience for all cinema lovers. The large number of films directed by women, the careful selection of short and feature-length films, the organization, and the quality of the productions presented have made it clear that this festival is a showcase of the talent and creativity of the Latin American film industry worldwide. In this sense, this event is a demonstration of commitment to Latin culture, providing us with an unforgettable experience that we will remember until next year, when it celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Below, I have selected five films that are worthy of attention and represent the quality and diversity of Latin American cinema exhibited at the festival, hoping that they can inspire more people to dive into the fascinating world of Latin cinema.

The film “Viaje”, written and directed by Peruvian filmmaker José Fernández del Río, is a cinematic work that stands out for its excellent symbolism and visual artistry. The plot revolves around the story of a man who receives a terminal cancer diagnosis and has only six months to live.

Throughout the film, the camera shows us, through the beauty of the desolate landscapes, the intense reflection on death and the anguish that Gabriel (Marco Miranda), the main character of the movie, experiences as he strives to regain human contact with the inhabitants of the town of Motupe and reconcile with his memories. The return home, related to Joseph Campbell’s proposed hero’s journey structure, becomes a central element of the plot, accompanied by the encounter with Gladys (Estrella Cortez), a young woman considered miraculous by the inhabitants of Motupe, and culminating in a tragic event linked to the religious traditions of the town.

Thanks to the careful direction and excellent photography work, this film manages to convey a profound sense of emptiness and acquires a tone of magical realism. Furthermore, the plot manages to explore universal themes such as the meaning of life and the struggle against death, in a moving, tragic, and emotional story. Ultimately, “Viaje” is a film that stands out for its visual and emotional power, managing to immerse the viewer in a unique cinematic experience. The plot, which combines mythical and religious elements from the Peruvian tradition, creates an original and profound story that will leave a lasting impression on the viewer.

The movie “9”, written and directed by Uruguayans Martín Barrenechea and Nicolás Branca, is a film that explores the psychological side of the life of a young footballer who is at the top of his career but feels a great emptiness inside. The movie addresses deep and complex themes such as loneliness, the pressure of expectations, and the existential burden that fame carries.

The plot centers around the story of a young football prodigy named Christian (Enzo Vogrincic), who suffers an emotional breakdown during a match that manifests in an act of violence on the field. From there, a profound existential crisis ensues that leads him to question what he has achieved in his career and where his personal life is going. On the other hand, Christian meets Belén (Sofía Lara), a character who helps him begin a process of transformation and realize that in his life, what’s important is the instinct to live authentically, even if it means challenging his father and his expectations.

Through excellent symbolic and visual structure, the film reflects the protagonist’s emotional state, the coldness of the football market, and the high expectations that the father projects onto his son without taking him into account. Barrenechea and Branca direction accurately captures the protagonist’s emotional states through the totality of the elements that appear in the film. In summary, “9” is a film that effectively and captivatesly addresses deep and complex themes. It is a moving and realistic portrayal of the life of a young footballer struggling to find his place in the world.

The movie “Hasta el fin de los tiempos,” written and directed by Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Molina, presents us with the story of Patricio (Bruno Bichir), a man who finds himself in a difficult situation after his divorce and the loss of his financial stability, which triggers the drama of losing one world and rebuilding a new one.

The plot unfolds as Patricio finds refuge in an artist residency home, where he meets Natalia (Karla Coronado), an eccentric young woman who shows him the value of artistic creation and helps him find a new purpose in life through love. The movie showcases the spiritual longing for connection of its protagonists, exemplified in the fusion of Baudelaire’s poetry represented through Natalia’s character and Japanese haikus represented in the main character, showing how the combination of these two artistic traditions can be healing and transformative.

In summary, “Hasta el fin de los tiempos,” is a movie that invites reflection on the meaning of life and how we can find happiness in the simplest and most authentic things. With a youthful and Mexican tone, this film shows the importance of art as a means of personal transformation, closing the experience with a surprising and touching ending, inviting us to value every moment of our existence. Ultimately, Hasta el fin de los tiempos,” is a movie that makes you reflect and invites you to regain a sense of life through contact with the simple and with art.

The film “Años Luz”, written and directed by Uruguayan filmmaker Joaquín Mauad, shows us the reunion of three siblings, Mateo (Federico Repetto), Belén (Gabriela Freire), and María José (Virginia Farías), who after a long time apart, come together to finalize the sale of their parents’ old house. To make the sale, they embark on a road trip back to their childhood home, a journey that stirs up internal movement in the protagonists, bringing back old fears, memories, and unresolved wounds, leading them through a transformative journey that invites them to reconcile with their past and emotions.

Through the plot, Mauad skillfully captures the phenomenon of human dwelling and how it extends to emotions and memories, creating an intense and emotional cinematic experience. The film stands out for its attention to visual elements, its poetic and symbolic background, linked to the home as a powerful space for establishing emotional ties between family members.

In short, “Años Luz” is a film that invites us to reflect on the importance of our roots and the need to reconcile with our past in order to move forward in the future. It is an emotional, poetic, and visually captivating work that shows us the strength and complexity of family relationships and the transformative power of home.

The film “La vida en el silencio,” written and directed by Mexican filmmaker Rodrigo Arnaz, tells the story of Fran (Juan Manuel Bernal), a jazz musician who is forced to give up his dreams to care for his autistic son after his wife abandons them both. This film is an emotional exploration of a father’s love, passion, and unconditional dedication to his child.

The movie shows us how Fran, brilliantly portrayed by the lead actor, faces every obstacle to protect and care for his autistic son, struggling against his own desires and the ghosts of his past when Mariana (Gabriela de la Garza), Samuel’s (Farid Placera) mother, returns seeking redemption. The jazz soundtrack accompanying the film adds a passionate dimension to the story, expressing the storm of emotions of a father who fights to fulfill his paternal responsibility to the extreme.

Through the poignant performances of the cast and masterful direction, the film shows us how parenthood can become a supreme desire for a man who sacrifices his own longings for his child, while also making visible the reality of many families facing autism and the challenges it presents. In summary, “La vida en el silencio,” is a cinematic work that is moving and thought-provoking about the true meaning of love and paternity.

If you have any questions, please let us know.

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