Last night, I went to my first film at the Chicago Latino Film Festival. It’s one of my favorite film festivals all year, seconded only the Chicago International Film Festival in October. The Chicago Latino Film festival showcases films from all over Latin America, including Brazil. It’s a real treat for me since I used to study Latin American history and art. I love getting to practice my Spanish or Portuguese; well, at least, I get to practice my listening comprehension skills. The festival is a nice mix of more recent films and older classics, like The Official Story or Amores Perros.
I try to see at least one film every year. This year, I’ll see two films. Last night, I saw Solo, a film from Uruguay. It’s about a trumpeter in a military band who is dissatisfied with his career and lot in life. He signs up for a music competition. I chose it because I love films about musicians since I play the saxophone. The film was interesting but I didn’t love it. While I’m used to the slow pace of non-US films, I felt constantly aware of the passage of time. However, I liked the fact that the trumpeter actually played the trumpet instead of an actor pretending to play. It’s a nice touch. The music played throughout the film was pretty excellent too. I appreciate the dilemma between one’s day job and one’s artistic aspirations. The director was there at the screening and he answered questions after the show. It’s a nice touch with festival. One neat thing that he said was that the military band was an actual band, not actors. The main lead had to learn to play with them for the movie, which is quite a feat. It’s not easy immersing oneself into a band.
Tonight, I’ll be seeing La Espera Desespera/Hopeful Hopeless, a film from Puerto Rico. It’s supposed to be a comedy about a guy who tries to rob a bank out of desperation to help pay his wife’s medical bills. When he tries to rob the bank, he discovers that he isn’t the only one to have the same idea.
Last year, I saw two films at the festival. One was a series of Argentine animated shorts about Buenos Aires. They were a bit bizarre (one involved a giant breast shaped heart while another one actually took you on a trip through a pigeon’s anus) but not always in a good way. Of the three or four short films, my favorite was the animation of a graffiti stencil of two tango dancers moving across the walls of the city. It was more of bridge between all the shorts but I thought it was really cleaver. The second film was a Brazilian film called The Man from the Future or O Homen do Futuro It was one of my favorite films from 2013. It’s about a bitter scientist who builds a time machine to go into the past to prevent a personally catastrophic event. It’s kinda like a more serious but still funny version of Back to the Future. I’d check it out if you can find it.
Before last year, I wasn’t as regular about the festival so I’ve only seen a more films over the years. One year was another Uruguayan film called Gigante, about a security guard who becomes obsessed with a female janitor. He starts to follow her. It’s a strange film and not as creepy as it sounds. He’s more of guardian presence. It was okay. Years before that, I saw Camera Obscura, the Argentine film, which I talked about a few weeks ago. It’s really a wonderful event. I’m sad that I won’t be able to go to more screenings. You should check it out and see if you can catch a good one.