Latin America cinema is rich and diverse. The 33 nations have a regular output of audacious and non-mainstream films, with countries such as Brazil and Mexico releasing more than 200 films a year. Sadly, however, most of these films never reach cinemas and streaming platforms outside the continent. That’s why we have cherry-picked the films below for you, in a real explosion of colour, flare and Latin passion.
The films are listed in alphabetical order, and streaming is available in specific countries only (all of these movies, however, can be viewed in our home market, the UK). And don’t forget to click on the movie title in order to accede to our exclusive film review, where available:
1. Alba (Ana Cristina Barragán, 2016), from Ecuador:
Alba, 11 years old, passes her days in silence. She loves little animals. She has learned to cope with her mother’s illness, helping her to use the bathroom. Alba plays silently so that her mother can rest during the day. One night Alba’s mother gets worse, and has to be taken to the hospital. With no one else to take care of her, Alba is sent to live with her father, who she hasn’t seen since she was three years old. Living with her father is almost unbearable. Embarrassment, her first kiss, visits to mother in the hospital, Edgar’s tender efforts to get close to her, and bullying at school. These are some of the experiences that pave Alba’s journey to puberty and to self-acceptance.
2. Cassandro, the Exotico (Marie Losier, 2018), from Mexico:
After 26 years of spinning dives and flying uppercuts on the ring, Cassandro, the star of the gender-bending cross-dressing Mexican wrestlers known as the Exoticos, is far from retiring. But with dozens of broken bones and metal pins in his body, he must now reinvent himself.
3. Everybody Leaves (Sergio Cabrera, 2015), from Colombia/Cuba:
In Cienfuegos in the 1980s, a poetic young girl tries to make sense of her parents’ volatile separation while keenly observing the reality of Cuba’s dilemmas.
4. Good Manners (Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas, 2017), from Brazil:
Outstanding Brazilian horror blends the tender with the bizarre, in a very original story about motherhood, pregnancy and reclusion from society. Try not to find out too much about this film before you watch it. You’ll be in for a very dirty surprise. For starters, the movie title is very misleading. If you are expecting a comedy about social customs, etiquette or some sort of period drama about class struggles, you are heading in the wrong direction. In reality, Good Manners is a horror movie. A very unusual, bizarre and, at the same time, extremely tender one.
Good Manners is also pictured at the top of this article.
5. Jésus (Fernando Guzzoni, 2017), from Chile:
Disturbing Chilean drama uses a famous real-life homophobic crime as a gauge for the strained relationship between a father and a son. This is Jesus like you’ve never seen before: he’s in an amateur k-pop band, he’s arrogant, he’s insecure, he’s violent, he’s bisexual and he has a very stormy relationship with his father. And unlike the Christian Messiah, he does not save and redeem people. Quite the opposite: he murders instead. Our protagonist here is the antithesis of the citizen any society would cherish and value.
6. Just Meet (Fernanda Romandía, 2019), from Mexico:
One of the most influential and recognized architects in the world, Tadao Ando, will guide us through an intimate journey from his studio in Japan to the construction of Casa Wabi in the Pacific coast of Mexico. While we see his magnificent work coming to be, we will be welcomed into his world and learn his way of appreciating life, the arts, and his passion for architecture.
7. Memory Exercises (Paz Encina, 2016), from Paraguay:
Families in Paraguay are still mourning and healing from the brutal acts and murders carried out as part of the infamous Operation Condor. The Paraguayan politician Agustín Goiburú disappeared without a trace while living in exile in the Argentinian province of Entre Ríos. He was the most prominent and vocal opponent of Alfredo Stroessner, the military dictator that ruled Paraguay from 1954 to 1989. The documentarist Paz Encina found a very inventive way to recreate the Paraguayan political context through the memories of three children. These young desaparecidos (missing) reveal intimate memories of a country for the past 35 years without ever appearing on-screen.
8. Minotaur (Nicolás Pereda, 2015), from Mexico:
Minotaur takes place in a home of books, of readers, of artists. It’s also a home of soft light, of eternal afternoons, of sleepiness, of dreams. The home is impermeable to the world. Mexico is on fire, but the characters of Minotaur sleep soundly.
9. Seashore (Marcio Reolon, 2016), from Brazil:
A lonely beach on the southernmost coast of Brazil is the scene for two friends, on the brink of adulthood, to explore their understanding of themselves and one another. Martin (Mateus Almada) has been sent by his father to retrieve what appears to be an inheritance-related document from the family of his recently deceased and estranged grandfather. Tomaz (Mauricio Jose Barcellos) accompanies him, seemingly hoping to regain some of their former closeness. The two boys shelter themselves in a glass house, in front of a cold and stormy sea.
From the director of the acclaimed dirty movie Hard Paint (2018).
10. Three Women (or Waking up from the Bosnian Dream) (Sergio Flores Thorija, 2017), from Mexico:
Ivana, Clara and Marina are three women from different backgrounds living at the same time in Sarajevo. Ivana dreams about moving to the USA, Clara works during the night to save money for her studies and Marina is in love with her best friend who is moving to a different country. Each one fights to achieve her own goals, but most of the time society doesn’t accept what’s not in accordance with its norms.