Elgin Latino film fest spotlights autism awareness
This year's Latino Film Festival Elgin will promote autism awareness and got endorsements from Hollywood actress Mindy Sterling and Chicago Sun-Times film critic Richard Roeper, who posted videos on social media encouraging people to check it out.
The 7th annual festival Friday through Sunday features movies from the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Peru, Mexico and Costa Rica. It is the only suburban component of the Chicago Latino Film Festival running through April 11.
Festival Director Margarita Mendoza and her husband Enrique, who helps organize the event, said they are looking forward to the opening night film, "Lo Que Siento Por Ti" (What I Feel For you) from the Dominican Republic. The film focuses on social inclusion and is based on the real stories of the mother of two autistic youngsters, a couple who unsuccessfully tries to have a child, and the father of a Special Olympics athlete, Margarita Mendoza said.
"The great thing about this movie is that usually (in films) it's the perspective of the kids, the way they are going through life," Enrique Mendoza said. "This is that plus the vision of the parents, who usually don't get recognized."
April is National Autism Awareness Month. The festival has partnered with two Chicago organizations, The Autism Hero Project and Latinas United in Love for Autism, which will be there on opening night Friday in the Spartan Auditorium of Elgin Community College, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
The film will be shown at 6:30 p.m., followed by a reception with musical entertainment from Grupo Cuerdas Colombianas from Chicago and pizza and food from Brazil and Colombia. Members of Congo Grande Comparsa of Chicago will wear the colorful costumes of Colombia's Barranquilla's carnival. Tickets are $30; seniors pay $20.
Films on Saturday and Sunday will be shown at Marcus Elgin Cinema, 111 S. Randall Road, Elgin. Tickets are $15.
"Nido de Mantis" (Mantis Nest) from Cuba is at 5 p.m. Saturday. A young woman has hours to prove she was not her parents' killer with the backdrop of the 1994 migratory crisis from Cuba to the United States.
"Caiga Quien Caiga" (Whoever May Fall) from Peru is at 7 p.m. Saturday. It's about the investigation and capture of Vladimiro Montesinos, the former head of Peru's intelligence service.
"Tiempos de Lluvia" (In Times of Rain) from Mexico is at 3 p.m. Sunday. It's about an indigenous woman who lives in the city and decides to bring her child there.
"El Baile de la Gacela" (The Dance of the Gazelle) at 5 p.m. Sunday is a Costa Rican film about how love and the passion for dancing have no age.
Enrique Mendoza said he reached out to his connections in the film industry to get the endorsements from Sterling and Roeper. "We are a smaller festival that the one in Chicago, and we need to find ways to be creative," he said.
Pepe Vargas, producer of the Chicago Latino Film Festival, said the Elgin festival has been very successful in attracting viewers over the years. "Metaphorically, we think it's a baby we conceived together," he said. "They do their own thing and promote it, addressing the needs of the local community and the surrounding areas."