Latino Film Festival Draws Record Attendance of 150 People

Chicago Latino Film Festival North Park University

CHICAGO, IL (May 3, 2010) – North Park University presented the Chicago Latino Film Festival last Monday evening, and attendance at the event was the highest ever for the University. “In the past, we averaged 50 attendees a night,” said Dr. Lorenzo Florian, Professor of Spanish. “This year, we had a record turnout of 150 people.”

The Chicago Latino Film Festival has been held in Chicago for the last 26 years, featuring films from more than 20 Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries, and North Park has hosted its films for the last eight years. Hispanic Magazine has described the International Latino Cultural Center event as “the largest, oldest, and best Latino film festival in the country.” The festival has grown from 500 total attendees in 1985 to more than 35,000 today.

According to the International Latino Cultural Center, “The festival aims to provoke the audience by challenging oversimplified standardized images of Latino identity by demonstrating through visual cultural expressions that Latinos are defined by more than 20 different nationalities and come from diverse racial and social backgrounds.”

North Park hosted two films, Ella Es El Matador (She Is the Matador), the story of two female matadors who challenged the traditionally rigid gender roles of Spain, and The Living Documents, which gives a view into indigenous rights in Nicaragua and attorney María Acosta’s work for justice.

“The event was a great success, and a wonderful learning experience for the audience,” Florian commented. “Many of the attendees were not aware of the corruption and injustices going on in Nicaragua, and few of them knew much about the details of bullfighting in Spain, especially the history of female matadors.”

Florian attributes this year’s impressive turnout in part to the advance planning of a number of faculty in the Spanish department. Spanish professor Dr. Linda Craft, for instance, teaches a literature course examining Spanish culture, and she and other faculty connected the film subjects with course themes and encouraged students to broaden their educational and cultural horizons by attending.

North Park is one of only four universities that host films for the festival. The University plans to continue the relationship in the future, as part of its commitment to being a purposefully multicultural institution that celebrates the complex global cultural tapestry.