Latino Film Festival opens with “Night of Argentina”

Latino Film Festival opens with “Night of Argentina”

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On April 3, the Chicago Latino Film Festival hosted their 30th Opening Night Gala, the theme of which was “Night of Argentina.” Doors of AMC theaters opened at 6 p.m. for the film screening, and the doors of the neighboring Embassy Suites Hotel opened around 9 p.m. for the reception, following the screening.

“Glorias del Tango,” or “Tango Glories,” co-directed by Oliver Kolker and Hernán Findling, is a film broadly about the role of an art in a culture. The protagonist of the film is Fermín, played by Héctor Alterio, an 85-year-old man who lives in a mental ward and whose speech is nonsensical. Nonsensical, that is, until psychiatrist Dr. Kaufman, played by Gaston Pauls, discovers that Fermín is speaking through the lyrics of tango music. In the end, the movie explores the intricate relationships of Argentineans and how they hold on to tango, a constant in a moment of upheaval during the dictatorship, to keep going. Oliver Kolker, writer and co-director of Tango Glories, drew the inspiration for the movie from his own life, as a professional tango dancer.

“You can speak in Tango because Tango talks about it all. Of love, betrayal, family, of the prison of lies. It’s a cultural expression of the strongest power. It’s an art that is expressed in four: music, song, poetry and dance. That’s the Tango and it contaminates the whole world,” said Kolker.

After the screening, attendees walked to Embassy Suites Hotel where professional dancers were performing various traditional Latino dances. Pepe Vargas, founder of the Chicago Latino Film Festival, was pleased with how the Opening Ceremony went. He hopes to open a large Latino cultural venue that offers programs and classes that embrace and elevate Latino culture. He wants to do this because he is concerned that the future generations of Latinos in the U.S. won’t have pride in their culture.

“I worry about the new generations because they have to have what we don’t. They need to have something that says “this is mine,” “this pertains to part of my culture” and that they share it with others. This speaks to the Latino family, that we are multinational, with many nationalities and races, of various languages and with people of all colors,” said Vargas.

Latino is an all-encompassing term and could mean any number of kinds of dance classes for his future, dream venue, and Vargas says that’s the point—to appreciate the diversity within the Latino community. And that’s where the film festival comes in to play.

“Film gives us the importance to show who we are, and the difference between countries. The people see it, and they feel connected,” said Vargas.

By the end of Opening Night, attendees took over the dance floor and everybody from dancers to directors, mingled in the crowd. Closing Night, marking the end of the Chicago Latino Film Festival’s 30th anniversary, will be at 6 p.m. on April 16.

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