In 2003, in collaboration with Mexican filmmaker Luis Ulloa, Cecilia Cornejo Sotelo, created and co-directed “The Nineteenth Step,” a collective of artists, filmmakers, critics, and scholars that used cinema to foster a deeper understanding of Latin American culture. As curators, Cornejo Sotelo and Ulloa researched, curated, and programmed three critically acclaimed Latin American film series that premiered at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago, before traveling around the Midwest.

“The Nineteenth Step” took its name from Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges’ short story The Aleph, where the main character is invited to observe an aleph—a point in space that contains all other points—on the nineteenth step of a basement staircase in a building about to be demolished in Buenos Aires. During its seven years of existence, “The Nineteenth Step” remained committed to bringing to the Midwest innovative, independent Latin American films, often produced at the margins of the official local film industry.

Clandestinos ~ Cuban Contemporary Film and Video.
Selection of seven feature films and16 shorts, including four films by celebrated Cuban filmmaker, Fernando Pérez.

Distant Parallels ~Views of Sexuality and Gender from Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Mexico.
Selection of nine feature films and 11 shorts by emerging directors.

Pinochet and Beyond ~Chilean Contemporary Documentary
Selection of seven documentary films in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Chilean coup d’état.