Finally, in the last decades, we have seen a significant takeoff, with great ideas in the Latin American cinema. It’s a continent that is characterized by a constant struggle to survive all kinds of aggression, with a culture of resistance against domination, and in constant search for its identity. Love, passion, celebration, marginalization, blood, nature, life and death are some of the components that characterize the films and the history of our continent.
Latin America, has an abundance of great cinema that many have come to recognize internationally. Even though the list is long and many will be left out, here are 10 films so you can get started on the beautiful world of Latin American cinema and be part of our history.
Ciudad de Dios (Brasil)
This film, based on a true story, is directed by Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund. It was developed in a favela of Rio de Janeiro called “City of God” and focuses on the lives of several young people who live in this favela for almost thirty years between the sixties and eighties.
Progressively crime will take more weight in the social articulation of the community, where the environmental, moral and spiritual degradation lead to the children controlling the drug traffic as a source of survival, even knowing that they probably will not reach adulthood. There is a significant point in the film that one of the children says that he is already a man because he has already smoked, inhaled, stolen and murdered.
Nueve Reinas (Argentina)
If there is an Argentinian film that has caused a big impact, it is ‘9 Queens’. This film is a representation of the “everyday life of Argentina”. It’s a history of seductive swindlers, traps, ingenuity and humor. This film takes the viewer through structural mental games that will gradually disarm them.
Written and directed by Fabian Bielinsky, the film tells the story of two small-time swindlers who meet by chance. From this encounter arises the possibility of a “little job” where they can make a lot of money. From there begins a kind of tennis match, in which the two scammers try to maintain a professional relationship within their condition, that is, without one betraying the other and vice versa.
Amores Perros (Mexico)
A film that investigates, with fierceness and a shocking truth, the hell of the different realities that can be experienced in “modern” cities. Pain being the primary identity of the man in the city, as a characteristic of his dignity. Amores Perros is a crossroads of stories, fostered by the impact between two cars, It’s a parable about the unpredictable and ironic destiny. With characters, petty, miserable and pathetic, but also worthy of commiseration. They all have particular relationships with a dog, or with several dogs, which are metaphors for an breathable precariousness of their souls. The politically correct and the usual, has no place here, only life.
This film is directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, in his debut as a director, and written by Guillermo Arriaga.
“HERMANO” is a film loaded with Venezuelan daily life, especially from the popular sectors called “barrios”. It focuses on the relationship between two brothers, united by the love of football and possible way of escape from a difficult reality.
This movie goes beyond the typical cliche slogan, shared by many movies of this genre, “Do sports, say no to drugs”. It moves away from the cheap melodramas and the typical films of personal overcoming. It does not look for sensationalism or scandalize, nor does it seek the moral lesson or the need for redemption or sacrifice. In addition, the fraternal love of its characters, makes it infect the viewer.
“Daniel is an exceptional striker, a phenomenon, Julio is the captain of his team, they are both foster brothers and play football in their small neighborhood “La Ceniza.” Daniel wishes with all his might to play at a professional level, while Julio keeps the family with dirty money: “you do not have time to dream… “, but the film is something else.
Directed by Marcel Rasquin and produced by Enrique Aular, it was awarded “Best Film” at the 32nd edition of the Moscow Film Festival, and was the Venezuelan proposal to compete for the Oscar for the best foreign film, although it was not nominated.
En la cama (Chile)
This film, directed by Matias Bize, is composed of elements that invite us to reflect on the question “How far can we get involved with a stranger?” What is presumed as a common sexual encounter without major commitments and personal demands, ends up becoming throughout the film a drama of vital reflections on our fears, longings, anxieties and frustrations. The entire film runs completely in the room of a motel in Santiago de Chile and focuses only on two young middle class characters, Daniela and Bruno, but do they fall in love?
El Abrazo de la Serpiente (Colombia)
This realization deals with already known topics such as colonialism, genocide, science, mortality, vanity and other human defects, but without falling into the typical theme of the white savior and the poor and noble indigenous.
One of the most significant characteristics of this film is that they speak 16 different languages some of which are indigenous languages such as Tikuna and Huitoto. The original and millennial people are the true protagonists of this story. Giving a new perspective to a very old subject.
Feature film directed by Ciro Guerra narrates the relationship between an Amazonian shaman, last survivor of his people, and two scientists who travel the northwest of the Amazon in search of ancestral knowledge. From there, we will see how the relationship between these antagonistic characters develops.
Yawar Mallku (Bolivia)
“Sangre de condor” or “Yawar Mallku” in the Quechua language is a profound denunciation of US imperialism, gender equality, violence and the struggle of women in a deeply “macho” country. The story takes place in an indigenous community in Bolivia, where the “Peace Corps” (United States Independent Organization) provide their services, supposedly, to support the community. On the other hand, the same agency clandestinely sterilizes the women of the community, in order for the indigenous people to stop reproducing.
Filmed with little budget, non-professional actors, this film serves as a living document of the actions of the American “peace corps”. Thanks to this production, they managed to investigate the issue, confirming the crimes, leading to the expulsion of the Yankies from Bolivian soil. Directed by Jorge Sanjines, he also invites us to become aware of who we are, of our origins, calling for rebellion and struggle.
Nina Y Laura (Costa Rica)
This film, can be described as an essay on mourning, which denotes the dimension of tragic events and their consequences, without falling into the classic melodrama and victimhood. Directed by Alejo Crisostomo, it talks about a lesbian couple “NINA and LAURA” and their four-year-old son Mateo, who has just died. Laura, who lived with Nina in Costa Rica, returns to Chile to take refuge with her family and Nina, with the intention of meeting her soon, is in charge of ordering things: storing Mateo’s belongings and putting the house for rent. It is the evidence of the problems caused by distance, and a grieving process.
“What a big space could cover such a small body, what abyss is left between your mother and me.”
El Bano del Papa (Uruguay)
Cinematographic work directed by Cesar Charlone, is a harsh social criticism full of irony and humor, towards society, basic needs, the church and the attempt of a community to get out of adversity. Inspired by the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1988 in the city of Melo, it tells the story of a community, pushed by a great media propaganda, preparing for the historic visit of the Pope that will supposedly attracted about 50 thousand visitors. In search of an economic development, the town begins to prepare food sales, medals and more. This implies a great investment, overcoming and indebtedness.
La Muerte de un Burocrata (Cuba)
It criticizes the post-revolutionary bureaucratic system, where the simple can become the impossible. At the beginning, we can appreciate that the death presented is not precisely that of a bureaucrat, but of a good worker of the people, very dear. As the film progresses, we realize that bureaucracy and bureaucrat are the same thing, and that both point to death.
Directed by Tomas Gutierrez Alea, she tells us the story of El Tío Paco, an exemplary worker who invents a machine and accidentally falls into it. The co-workers decide that he should be buried with his work card, which is symbol of his working class, but his widow can not collect their pension without this document. The nephew of the deceased lives amazing adventures to recover the card from the tomb of his uncle.