Latin culture and stories will take over the big screen at the 38th annual Chicago Latino Film Festival, which kicks off Thursday, April 21. Fifty feature films and 36 short films will be showcased at both in-person and virtual screenings.
“We spend a lot of time in selecting the films and making sure that every one of our countries is represented,” said Pepe Vargas, executive director of the International Latino Cultural Center Chicago and founder of the festival, “That’s what we are committed to — making sure that we are waking their appetite for consumption of these types of stories from every one of our countries — comedy, drama, thrillers, documentaries, animations, you name it, we have it.”
Vargas says organizers of the festival try to highlight first time directors, films made by women, and stories about marginalized communities including LGBTQ people, indigenous people, and Black Latinos; expanding on the original mission to create a platform for Latino filmmakers and stories.
“We had to share the narrative. We had to change the way the community is perceived,” said Vargas, “I see what reality is and how it plays out in in the real world now, how can we fight back, and I discovered the power of film will allow us to do so. And showing really who we are using the talent and the creativity of people who made these films. So we changed that view, that perception and stereotypes.”