Mariem Pérez Riera’s documentary about the beloved international star and icon will screen Monday, April 12 at ChiTown Movies Drive-In, 2343 S. Throop St. and will be available virtually April 17-18. 

CHICAGO (March 15, 2021) – The 37th Chicago Latino Film Festival, presented by Corona Extra, announced today its Centerpiece presentation of Mariem Pérez Riera’s Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It at ChiTown Movies Drive-In, 2343 S. Throop St. on Monday, April 12. The gates open at 6:00 pm with the film scheduled to start at 7:30 pm. A virtual screening of this no holds barred documentary about the beloved international icon and role model, geoblocked to the residents of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, will be available to stream only on Saturday, April 17 and Sunday, April 18

Rita Moreno defied both her humble upbringing and relentless racism to become a celebrated and beloved actor, one of the rare EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) Award Winners of our time. Born into poverty on a Puerto Rican farm, Moreno and her seamstress mother immigrated to New York City when Moreno was five years old. After studying dance and performing on Broadway, Moreno was cast in a number of stereotyped ethnic roles. Despite becoming the first Latina actress to win an Academy Award for her role as Anita in West Side Story (1961), the studios continued to offer Moreno lesser roles. But Moreno’s talent and resilience triumphed over adversity as she broke numerous barriers in theater, film and television, paving the way for a new generation of artists. Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It illuminates Moreno’s humor and grace, as well as her lesser-known struggles. 

“Twenty years ago, on March 8 2001, we honored Rita with the Gloria Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to the arts; she then delighted us with a wonderful night of music at the Black Orchid Classic Nightclub in Pipers Alley. It was a glorious and magical evening. Mariem’s documentary captures the honesty, the energy, the humility and the openness that has characterized Rita as an artist, as a person and as an advocate. Rita is still, to this day, a source of inspiration,” said Pepe Vargas, founder and executive director of the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago.

The mostly virtual 37th Chicago Latino Film Festival will showcase films from all over Latin America, Spain, Portugal and the United States from April 8-18. The Festival will once again be working with Eventive’s virtual platform and its online program will be available to residents of Illinois and, with some exceptions, the Midwest states of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. 


Born in Puerto Rico, Mariem Pérez Riera obtained her B.A. in Film Direction from the University of Miami and continued her education in documentary cinema with a degree in Continuing Studies from New York University. She then moved to Cuba where she studied at the International School of Film and Television (EICTV) in La Havana. She made her directing debut with the documentary Cuando lo pequeño se hace grande (2002), about the Puerto Rican fight against the U.S. Navy presence on the island of Vieques, and her fiction feature debut in 2007 as the co-director, alongside Carlitos Ruiz, of Maldeamores, executive produced by Benicio Del Toro winning several film festival awards. Additional directing credits include De Puerto Rico para el mundo (2016, and partially shot in Chicago) and the Emmy-winning Croatto, la huella de un emigrante (2016).


Tickets for all Drive-in screenings (Opening and Closing Night and Centerpiece) are: general, $55 per car; ILCC members, $44 per car. No more than 6 people per car. All ticketing fees are included in the price. Tickets must be purchased in advance. No in-person sales will be done at the Drive-in. 

Tickets for the virtual screening of Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It go on sale on Thursday, March 18. Virtual screenings are $12 for general public and $10 for ILCC members, students and seniors. Festival passes good for 10 films are: $100, general and $80, ILCC members, students and seniors. All ticketing fees are included in the price. Once you have purchased a ticket for your film, you will be able to start watching any time during the watch window. Once you begin watching, you will have 24 hours to finish watching the film.

For more information, visit:


Sponsors of the 37th Chicago Latino Film Festival so far include: 

Presenter: Corona Extra

Sponsors: Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, BTEC, Delta/AeroMexico, DePaul University, Illinois Lottery, Lopez & Co, Prado & Renteria, Tristan & Cervantes, US Bank, Xfinity, The Whitehall Hotel

Media Sponsors: Chicago Reader, WBEZ/Vocalo, CAN TV, La Raza , NBC 5 / Telemundo Chicago and WTTW


The Chicago Latino Film Festival receives additional support from: The Reva and David Logan Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity, and Arts at Prince, The Field Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, Vanguard Charitable, Chicago Community Trust, Art Works Fund, Chicago Department Of Cultural Affairs (DCASE), Nordstrom, Illinois Arts Council, a State Agency, and Walder Foundation.


The International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago is a pan-Latino, nonprofit, multidisciplinary arts organization dedicated to developing, promoting and increasing awareness of Latino cultures among Latinos and other communities by presenting a wide variety of art forms and education including film, music, dance, visual arts, comedy and theater.

The Center prides itself for its outstanding multidisciplinary local and international cultural programming which spans Latin America, Spain, Portugal, and the United States. 


Born out of the Chicago Latino Film Festival, The International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago also produces other programs, including the Latino Music Series, which will celebrate its 15th edition this year; Film in the Parks, also in its 15th season; the monthly Reel Film Club, already in its 11th year; and many others. All in all, the audience has grown from 500 people in 1985 for the first Chicago Latino Film Festival to more than 60,000 (Latinos and non-Latinos) who enjoy the year-round multidisciplinary cross-cultural exchanges offered by the Center.