The March 28 Opening Night Gala/Noche Cubana celebration begins at 5:30 pm at the AMC River East 21 Theatres, 322 E. Illinois St., and concludes with a post-screening reception at Chez

CHICAGO (February 26, 2019) – The 35th Chicago Latino Film Festival (CLFF) announced today the selection of Spanish filmmaker Icían Bollaín’s new film Yuli for their Opening Night Gala/Noche Cubana event, Thursday, March 28 at the AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois St. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; the event will conclude with a post-screening cocktail reception at Chez, 247 E. Ontario. Tickets for Opening Night are $60 general / $50 for ILCC members. Admission includes the film screening and reception. Cocktail attire is strongly encouraged. Tickets for Opening Night can be purchased online at chicagolatinofilmfestival.org/ or on CLFF’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoLatinoFilmFestival/). 

The Opening Night Gala/Noche Cubana is sponsored by Corona Extra and Casa Noble.

Bollaín (Even the Rain) and partner Paul Laverty (Ken Loach’s longtime collaborator) try something completely different with this adaptation of acclaimed Cuban ballet dancer Carlos Acosta’s autobiography. Nicknamed Yuli by his father Pedro, Carlos runs wild in the streets of Havana where he participates in dance-offs with other kids. Recognizing Yuli’s natural talent, Pedro forces him to attend Cuba’s National Dance School. Yuli is reluctant at first, but is eventually seduced by this world. Seventeen years later, he would become the first black artist to dance the role of Romeo in the Royal Ballet in London. Combining a straightforward narrative with scenes where Acosta is seen working with his company on choreographies based on his life, Yuli is a moving fusion of dance, words and images. Yuli received the Jury Prize for Best Screenplay at last year’s San Sebastian Film Festival.

“Icíar’s latest film is both a tribute to a city, Havana, and to an inspiring artist. Yuli is intimate and magnificent, a breathtaking fusion of drama and dance, beautifully shot, and splendidly scored by Alberto Iglesias. Our Opening Night selection encapsulates our core mission as a multidisciplinary institution,” said Pepe Vargas, founder and executive director of the International Latino Cultural Center, producer of the Chicago Latino Film Festival.

Born in Madrid, Icíar Bollaín has worked as an actress in films such El Sur (1983), Land and Freedom (1995) and The Stone Raft (2003). As a director, Icíar has written and directed many critically-acclaimed and award-winning films. Flowers from Another World, her second film, received the Best Film Award in the International Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival in 1999. Take my eyes (2003), her following film as writer and director, won seven Goyas including Best Film, and her first collaboration with Paul Laverty, Even the Rain, won the Panorama Award at the Berlinale and the Ariel Award for Best Latin American film, among others. Additional collaborations with Paul include: Katmandú, un espejo en el cielo (2011), The Olive Tree (2016) and Yuli (2018).

Born in Calcutta to an Irish mother and Scottish father, Paul Laverty started his career as a practicing lawyer. He travelled to Nicaragua in the mid-80s where he lived for almost three years, working for a Nicaraguan human rights organization. Here he met acclaimed filmmaker Ken Loach for whom he later wrote what became the first of 14 collaborations: Carla’s Song (1996) starring Robert Carlyle as a Scottish bus driver who accompanies a Nicaraguan refugee back to her homeland during the Sandinista/Contra conflict. Additional collaborations with Loach include: Sweet Sixteen (winner in 2002 of the Best Screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival), The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2005), I, Daniel Blake (2016) and Sorry We Missed You which is currently in production.

The 35th Chicago Latino Film Festival (CLFF) will take place March 28-April 11 at the AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois St. and will feature over 100 feature-length and short films from Latin America, Spain, Portugal and the United States. All of the films will be shown in their original language with English subtitles where appropriate.


The 35th Chicago Latino Film Festival is made possible by the following sponsors:

Gold: Corona Extra, AMC Independent

Silver: BMO Harris Bank, Copa Airlines, DePaul University, Tequila Casa Noble, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The Whitehall Hotel and Yes! Press

Bronze: Allstate, Coca-Cola, Consulate General of Chile in Chicago, Dominican Republic Tourism Office in Chicago, Illinois Lottery, Lopez & Co, Norwegian American Hospital Foundation, Prado & Renteria and Tristan & Cervantes

Media Sponsors: CAN-TV, Chicago Latino Network, Chicago Reader, Chicago Sun-Times, Cine Latino, La Raza, Mike Oquendo Events, NBC Chicago, Telemundo Chicago, Univision Chicago and WTTW-TV


The Chicago Latino Film Festival receives additional support from: Nordstrom, The Reva and David Logan Foundation, Prince Charitable Trusts, The National Endowment for the Arts, Nordstrom, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, a State Agency, and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.


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 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 Festival, which will celebrate its 14th edition in the Fall; Film in the Parks, also in its 14th 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 close to 80,000 (Latinos and non-Latinos) who enjoy the year-round multidisciplinary cross-cultural exchanges offered by the Center.