PANORAMA LATINX is an initiative of the Gene Siskel Film Center dedicated to year-round Latin American film programming. We engage the dynamic Latinx community of greater Chicago through showcasing the work of emerging and established Latinx filmmakers, educational screenings, and community partnerships.
Birds of Passage
Pájaros de verano
2018, Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra, Colombia/Denmark/Mexico, 125 min.
With Carmiña Martínez, José Acosta
“Part ethnographic documentary, part THE GODFATHER…the movie is a knockout."--David Edelstein, New York Magazine
“An ambitious follow-up to the Oscar-nominated EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT…few films have captured quite so powerfully the tension between the old and new worlds.”--Peter Debruge, Variety
From the Oscar-nominated makers of EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT comes this eerily brutal and richly colorful tale of the rise and fall over two decades of a family of the indigenous Wayuu clan of northern Colombia, when their tribal heritage and mystic beliefs come up against the temptation of riches from drug trafficking. Divided into five sections punctuated by narrative chants, the saga begins with the coming of age of Zaida (Natalia Reyes), daughter of tribal matriarch Úrsula (Martínez). A ritual dance culminates in Zaida’s choosing of a mate--handsome but impoverished Rapayet (Acosta), newly returned from the outside world. To earn her dowry, he turns to selling marijuana to hippie Peace Corps workers, the first step into a lucrative trade that will quickly become a vast family business bringing unimaginable wealth along with the curse of rivalry, betrayal, and warfare. Tribal bonds are tested and machismo falls short in the face of Úrsula’s ruthless resolve to protect her family. In Wayuu, Spanish, and English. DCP digital widescreen. (BS)
Ruben Blades Is Not My Name
2018, Abner Benaim, Panama, 85 min.
Rubén Blades is a key figure in the evolution of Salsa music and the raising of Latinx consciousness throughout the hemisphere. Contemplating mortality after the sudden death of Prince, the eight-time Grammy-winner enlisted leading Panamanian director Benaim (INVASION, CHANCE) to make a documentary portrait that would serve as a fitting legacy. The usually private Blades (Gabriel García Márquez called him "the most popular unknown person I've ever known") opens up for a highly personal overview of his multifaceted life and career, including his Panama City boyhood, his rise from the mailroom of legendary Fania Records, his early collaborations with such giants as Ray Barretto and Willie Colón, his groundbreaking injection of political content into Salsa music, his distinguished acting career (CROSSOVER DREAMS, ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO, "Fear the Walking Dead"), his 2015 acknowledgement of a previously unknown son, and his deep involvement in Panamanian politics (including a 1994 presidential bid). Talking heads such as Sting, Paul Simon, and Junot Díaz testify to Blade's cultural significance, and there are electrifying performances of such classic songs as "Plastic Girl," "Pedro Navaja," "Tiburón," and "Patria." The film was Panama's official Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language Film. In Spanish and English with English subtitles. DCP digital. (MR)
Tito and the Birds
Tito e os Pássaros
2018, Gabriel Bitar, André Catoto, and Gustavo Steinberg, Brazil, 73 min.
“Audiences of all ages will benefit from its beautiful images and sharply scripted story…surreal and hypnotizing.”--Barry Hertz, Toronto Globe and Mail
“Powerful…a little science fiction, a lot of fantasy, and a surprisingly potent allegory.”--Jared Mobarak, The Film Stage
This timely and fast-paced animated adventure story takes a flight of fancy through a world in the grip of an epidemic of fear. Ruled by an evil media-mogul despot who spreads lies and threats, the population cowers in the safety of a domed community. A lone scientist believes that the birds are trying to give mankind a message, and he begins to build a machine to translate their songs into human speech. An accident destroys the machine and its inventor disappears, but his wide-eyed ten-year-old son Tito understands the urgency of his dad’s mission. Guided in a dream by a bird drawing that takes flight from an ancient cave painting, Tito recruits his friends Sarah and Buiú to join him in following the bird’s clues in order to rebuild his dad’s machine and avert a global crisis. Colorful and lusciously textured oil-painted imagery combines with digital drawings and computer animation for a haunting allegory suitable for all ages. In Portuguese with English subtitles. DCP digital widescreen. (BS)