The 34th Chicago Latino Film Festival showcases Latino talents from all over the world with 40+ short and 50+ feature-length films. This has developed into a staple for Chicago moviegoers and creates the perfect opportunity to indulge in a colorful culture and participate with local and international filmmakers. All the films are shown in their original language with English subtitles to authentically deliver a wide variety of comedies, dramas, and thrillers. As the festival grows, the theatre seats fill-up and more and more shows are sold out. It’s been quite the experience as a Latino & filmmaker to see the diversity in thought and expression being received so well outside of our community. In fact, as I scanned the theatre with my oversized popcorn and drink in hand, seeking the perfect seat, I realized there’s a genuine blend of age, race, and gender. Then it struck me, as the lights dim and you snuggle into your seat, you focus less and less on yourself and your surroundings and tune more and more into the film. It’s this metaphysical ritual that gives us a new set of eyes, a new perspective, a new world.
Moviegoers know this feeling all too well. But what they may not know, is they are flexing their ability to empathize. We get lost in these whirlwinds of emotions and plot twists that our protagonist suffers and ultimately triumphs. We create emotional connections to these actors on screen and invest ourselves in their well-being. So why stop flexing these skills when the lights come back on? Our everyday lives are full of conflicts, discussions, and relationships where empathy is a means of effective communication.
Think of the last movie you saw, how connected to the characters were you? You felt their pain, love, loss…these are stories built to draw that emotion out of you but what happens when you aren’t eating popcorn in that big red chair and instead, you’re in a meeting and it’s not the main character, but your co-worker feeling lost, mistreated, misunderstood. Should you feel any less connected, any less inclined to empathize?
See every day as your own movie where you get to play the best version of yourself. Don’t experience life happening in the 3rd Person. We can be the difference for our co-worker, friend, families if we act upon opportunities to create change. Don’t wait for the lights to dim and camera to roll…use those muscles and we will build a better world together.