Abner Benaim’s “Plaza Catedral,” Panama’s official submission to the Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film, will open the Festival on April 21st. Ángeles Cruz’s feature debut “Nudo Mixteco,” the Festival’s Centerpiece selection, will screen at the Drive-In on Wednesday, April 27th.

CHICAGO (March 14, 2022) – The 38th Chicago Latino Film Festival, presented by Corona Extra, announced today its selections for their Opening Night and Centerpiece screenings at ChiTown Movies Drive-In, 2343 S. Throop St.

The Festival opens Thursday, April 21st with Abner Benaim’s heartbreaking tale about Panama’s class and racial divides, Plaza Catedral. The Festival’s Centerpiece selection, Ángeles Cruz’s feature debut, Nudo Mixteco, will screen on Wednesday April 27th. The gates open at 6:30 pm with both films scheduled to start at 7:30 pm. Both films will screen exclusively at the Drive-In.

Benaim’s third film to be selected as Panama’s official entry for the Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film after 2014’s Invasion (an official selection of the 32nd Chicago Latino Film Festival) and Ruben Blades Is Not My Name (2018), Plaza Catedral tells the story of Alicia (Mexican actress Ilse Salas), still in mourning after the death of her six-year-old son in a freak accident and now divorced from Diego (Manolo Cardona), and 13-year-old Alexis, a.k.a. Chief (Fernando Xavier de Casta), who makes a living “taking care” of parked cars. Trained as an architect but now making a living as a real estate agent selling luxurious condos, she meets Chief when she tries to park her car right in front of her building. Days later he appears at her doorstep, bleeding from a gunshot wound. She reluctantly lets him in. What she could not imagine is that   by opening the door to Chief, she would also open the door to an unforeseen emotional bond. Anchored by Salas’ subtle performance and de Casta’s charismatic turn in his first starring role (sadly, he was murdered before receiving the Best Actor award at the Guadalajara Film Festival), Plaza Catedral is a devastating portrait of the divide between the haves and have nots.

In Nudo Mixteco, Ángeles Cruz intertwines the stories of three Mixtec women determined to take control of their lives as the residents of their fictional town of San Mateo gather to celebrate their patron saint. María returns to San Mateo to bury her mother and ask her childhood love Piedad to leave with her. Esteban returns to the village after three years to discover that his wife Chabela is living with another woman and demands that a community tribunal prosecute her. Toña wants to rescue her daughter from her abusive uncle. Nudo Mixteco’s poignant tales of migration, poverty and sexual identity introduces audiences to a community and a culture whose stories are seldom told on the big screen.

“Since the beginning, the Chicago Latino Film Festival has showcased films that speak to the experiences of marginalized communities across the Americas, particularly Indigenous and Afro-Latino communities. These two selections, Plaza Catedral and Nudo Mixteco, portray them and the hurdles they face, from within and without, with honesty and empathy,” said Pepe Vargas, founder and executive director of the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago.

Produced by the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, the 38th Chicago Latino Film Festival, April 21st-May 1st, will showcase films from all over Latin America, Spain, Portugal and the United States. The Festival will once again adopt a hybrid format with in-person screenings at the Landmark Century Center, 2828 N. Clark St., several Drive-In presentations at ChiTown Movies, 2343 S. Throop St., and with virtual screenings via Eventive accessible to residents of Illinois and the Midwest states of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana.

Applications for media accreditation are now open and are due Monday, April 4.


Abner Benaim studied International Relations and Economics at the University of Pennsylvania and later film directing at Camera Obscura, Tel Aviv. In 2004, he founded Apertura Films, an independent production company, in his native Panama, where he is considered a pioneer filmmaker. His first feature, Chance (2010), a dark comedy, was the first film to be theatrically released in Panama in 60 years, and was seen by over 500,000 spectators. Invasion (2014) was Panama’s first submission to the Academy Awards. His documentary Ruben Blades is Not My Name premiered at SXSW where it won the audience award. It was also selected to represent Panama at the Oscar and Goya awards. Benaim’s work deals with social issues and touching personal stories told in an unceremonious, sometimes humorous and irreverent tone.

Ángeles Cruz is an actress and director of Mixtec origin. Having worked as an actress since 1994, she wrote and directed her first short film, La tiricia o cómo curar la tristeza, in 2012, which won the Ariel Award for Best Short Fiction Film. Her subsequent shorts, La carta (2014) and Arcángel (2018), were both nominated for the same prize, with the latter earning her second win. Nudo Mixteco (2021) is her feature film debut.


Tickets for screenings at the Drive-in (maximum 6 passengers) are: general, $55 per car; ILCC members, $44 per car. All ticketing fees are included in the price. Tickets must be purchased in advance. No in-person sales at the Drive-in.

Tickets go on sale on Monday, March 21. For more information, visit:


The 38th Chicago Latino Film Festival is presented by Corona Extra and sponsored by: Xfinity, US Bank, Prado & Renteria, Lopez & Co., Nordstrom, Tristan & Cervantes, The Whitehall Hotel, Consulate General de Chile and BTEC

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


The 38th Chicago Latino Film Festival receives additional support from: Chicago’s Cultural Treasures, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, The Reva and David Logan Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity, and Arts at Prince, The Field Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs (DCASE), Illinois Arts Council — a State Agency, and Instituto Cervantes.


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, theater and culinary arts.

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 16th edition this year; Film in the Parks, also in its 16th season; the monthly Reel Film Club, already in its 13th 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 70,000 (Latinos and non-Latinos) who enjoy the year-round multidisciplinary cross-cultural exchanges offered by the Center.