Greg Turner saw the need to represent Latino voices and decided to take matters into his own hands.
Turner from Yorkville, hosted a Black Film Summit in March and wanted to bring this knowledge to other underrepresented communities.
The Latino International Film Expo will take place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on July 23 at the Northern Illinois University Convention Center in Naperville.
“As I interacted with all the filmmakers and the people who came out, I realized that this was really important for people of color,” he said. “I’m from Aurora and I thought Latinos would like there to be a festival for them.”
This festival will present 19 films from the United States, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Colombia. All tickets include movies, snacks, soft drinks and the awards ceremony. Audience members can upgrade their tickets to include premium liquors, hors d’oeuvres and a commemorative photo.
Films include documentaries, shorts and features, he said, and span all genres.
“You want to be able to give people comedy, romance, action, sci-fi. It’s a long day, so you want to mix it all up,” he said. only real parameter that filmmakers have to have is that they have to be directed by, or starring, or starring or produced by someone of Latin descent. That was the only requirement I had.
Giving a voice to the Latino perspective was very important to him, he said, especially given Aurora’s large Hispanic population.
“I think Hollywood, from a film perspective, hasn’t given everyone the opportunity,” he said. “Everyone has to have a chance. If I didn’t go ahead and do it… who was going to take over? Who was going to run with it? I felt like after the success of the first one, I knew what to do and how to improve. I thought to myself, let’s go and let people speak.
He found the films on the Film Freeway website.
“Our feature film is ‘San Pablo.’ He’s from Florida but he flew to Columbia and found his cast,” he said. “We have another feature film called ‘Verona’ which is (directed) by a woman from Brazil and which is entirely shot in Brazil.”
The film festival will be held in four sessions and people will be able to attend one or all of them, he said.
“People can come and go as they please,” he said.
Each session lasts approximately 90 minutes. The first session consists of short films, followed by a feature film, followed by a third session of more medium-length films. There’s a two-hour break, then the last session starts at 7 p.m. with a screening of “San Pablo,” he said.
“Immediately after this movie, we roll right into the awards show,” he said.
He thinks people will enjoy the day because people love movies. Plus, he thinks people will love the stories and creativity of the movies.
“Beyond that, I think people are going to be really surprised at how amazing the acting is, the cinematography is, and how creative the filmmakers are,” he said. “For movies that don’t contain any celebrities, they’re not Hollywood-produced movies,” he said.
“These are legitimately regular, ordinary Joes, many of whom went to school for movies, but they bought their own equipment, used their own money, wrote their own screenplay, got the actors together, and made these great movies. What I think people appreciate more than anything is how creative the artists are and how really good the movies are.
Turner has worked on independent and student films. He holds an associate degree in theater from Waubonnee Community College, a bachelor’s degree in theater from Columbia College, and a master’s degree in education from DePaul University.
“I have always been a movie buff. There are three other judges who helped me judge and two of them have their bachelor’s degrees in theater and the other is in graduate school at DePaul,” he said. “We are all drawn to the arts. I hope to get back into producing theater and acting myself. I miss those warm lights.
He hopes people will give the Latino International Film Expo a chance.
“I felt like people needed to see themselves doing something that they don’t always see themselves doing. That old cliché, seeing is believing. Hopefully people will come out and be inspired to take up the mantle themselves or come out and say, “I’ve seen these movies and this is something you can actually do.” If I have to be the one helping push people, I will.
International Latin Film Fair
When: 10am-10pm July 23
Where: Northern Illinois University Convention Center, 1120 E. Diehl Road, Naperville
Tickets: $35 to $125
Annie Alleman is a freelance journalist for the Beacon-News.