Thanks to a grant from the city of Elgin's Cultural Arts Commission, suburban audiences will get to see family-oriented films featured in this year's Chicago Latino Film Festival starting today.
The first Latino Film Festival Elgin will kick off with a party from 5 to 7 p.m. and a screening of Mexican film director Carlos Gomez Oliver's "En el ombligo del cielo" ("In the Navel of the Sky") at Elgin Community College, 1700 Spartan Drive.
The rest of the Elgin festival runs through Sunday at Marcus Elgin Cinema, 111 S. Randall Road.
"The grant we have received from the city of Elgin's Cultural Arts Commission shows their commitment and interest in supporting the arts and cultural events," said Margarita Mendoza, who coordinated the festival and is the owner of Colombia Hoy, an Elgin public relations firm.
Mendoza cited the large concentration of Hispanics in the Northwest suburbs as one of the main reasons for choosing Elgin as a satellite location for this year's Chicago Latino Film Festival, which runs through April 25. Elgin is home to a population that is 43.5 percent Hispanic, according to U.S. Census data. Mendoza collaborated with the International Latino Cultural Center in Chicago to bring the festival to Elgin.
Transportation costs and the distance between the suburbs and Chicago were other factors discussed by festival coordinators in deciding to extend the festival and make it accessible to Northwest suburban audiences, she said.
"The idea was to integrate the communities," Mendoza said. "We have a Latino community in Elgin that is quite large, and a lot of people live there and in the surrounding suburbs without the means to travel to Chicago," she added.
The Elgin festival will feature seven family-oriented films from Latin American countries that include Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Venezuela and Argentina.
"The Latino population of the suburbs is more family-oriented, and this is why we decided to choose films from the Chicago festival that children could go see with their parents," Mendoza said.
Mendoza said representatives of the consulate generals in Chicago from Colombia, Argentina, Dominican Republic and El Salvador are expected to attend the festival's event at ECC.
Other notable personalities expected to attend include Enrique Rodriguez from Univision Chicago and Nicole Suarez, TV host and former Nuestra Belleza Latina contestant.
• Daily Herald staff writer Elena Ferrarin contributed.