Anyone who passed the Logan Theatre (@TheLoganTheatre, 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave.) last week probably noticed the buzz of activity around the newly renovated neighborhood cinema hotspot. From Sept. 20–28, the theatre played host to the inaugural Mexican Film Festival of the Americas (MFFA), an event that brought together filmmakers and moviegoers to share the Mexican cinematic experience.
The festival featured 14 full-length films and four short films, and included events for opening night and closing night, an awards gala and several post-screening receptions.
On Wednesday night, the film “Mosquita y Mari” from writer/director Aurora Guerrero enjoyed its first and only showing on the big screen in Chicago. The movie tells the story of two teenage Chicanas in Los Angeles who forge a strong bond that walks the line between friendship and attraction. The film was presented by the Queer Film Society, and guests were treated to a cocktail reception following the movie.
Kristin Moncayo, a resident of Humboldt Park, picked “Mosquita y Mari” out of the lineup of films that included documentaries, comedies, crime dramas and even kids’ films, among others. “I’m not into action movies,” she said, “so that’s why I picked this one.”
Douglas Spain, producer of “Mission Park,” said he was happy to be sharing their film at the festival and representing the Latino community. He described the film as a “modern-day mafia story a la Al Capone, with a Latino cast.” Cast and crew members were present for both the screening and the after-party.
Variety and diversity were important to Jesse Charbonier Rodriguez, executive director and program director for the MFFA, as he researched which films to include. His hunt took him to Guadalajara and New York, where he worked to break through the surface of Mexican and Mexican-American cinema, searching for upcoming and underground talent.
“The concept is not just Mexican films—it’s about honoring and acknowledging films from directors of Mexican descent or films that explore the Mexican experience on the whole,” said Rodriguez. He hopes that highlighting the accomplishments of lesser-known Mexican and Mexican-American filmmakers will help them penetrate the industry worldwide and compete on the same level as other internationally-known filmmakers.
Rodriguez, a 20-year resident of Logan Square, thought the Logan Theatre would be the ideal space for the festival once the renovations were complete. He said comments from the filmmakers about the theater were very positive, with one Mexican filmmaker expressing that it was the nicest he’d ever visited.
Though Rodriguez admits putting together the festival was an ambitious project, he does hope to host another festival in a year.
Festival sponsors included Ciudad de Mexico Secretaria de Turismo, Univision Chicago, EC Charro Tequila and the Lawndale News, among others.