Taking place at the historic AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, this year’s AFI Latin American Film Festival is yet another example of a program of movies being made available to those outside the coastal cities that often get the bulk of indie and foreign film titles. Opening with Ciro Guerra‘s Birds of Passage (Pájaros de verano), the Guajira-set follow-up to his Oscar-nominated Embrace of the Serpent, and closing out with the Ruben Bládes musical doc that’s been making the festival rounds, AFI’s slate has a great mix of crowdpleasers and specialty titles.

Whether you’re a fan of Club de Cuervos’ Luis Gerardo Mendez, of lesbian werewolf flicks, of black and white feminist animated coming of age tales, or films shot in the indigenous language of Aymara, you’ll likely find something to enjoy during this weeks-long celebration of all things Latin America.

Find below our list top picks.

2018 AFI Latin American Film Festival runs September 13-Oct 3, 2018

Museo

Country Mexico
Production Year 2018
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'Museo' still courtesy of Vitagraph Films
101_Stills_Museo_web
'Museo' still courtesy of Vitagraph Films
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'Museo' still courtesy of Vitagraph Films
Synopsis

Set in 1985, Alonso Ruizpalacios’ follow-up to Güeros stars Gael García Bernal as part of a group of criminals who break into the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City to extract 140 pre-Hispanic pieces from their showcases. While based on the real life heist that shocked the art world back in the 80s, Ruizpalacios has made it clear he’s taken some artistic license, going beyond mere changing the names of those involved to evoke something closer to what Terence Malick achieved with Badlands in terms of a film that’s both real and fictional at the same time.

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details

Director Alonso Ruizpalacios
Country Mexico
Genre Crime Drama
Writer Manuel Alcalá alonso ruizpalacios
Producer Manuel Alcalá Alberto Muffelmann Ramiro Ruiz Gerardo Gatica
Production Year 2018
Running Time 90 minutes

Pajaros de verano

Country Colombia
Production Year 2018
birds-of-passage
'Birds of Passage' courtesy of Films Boutique
Synopsis

Set in Colombia in the 1970s, right when the demand for marijuana is set to explode, Ciro Guerra’s follow-up to his Oscar-nominated Embrace of the Serpent ditches the black and white aesthetic of his previous film for the colorful world of the Guajira desert. Yet again, though, he’s set his sights (alongside co-director and producer Cristina Gallego) on a story about the way Colombian history intersects with its indigenous population. Birds of Passage follows an Wayuu indigenous family who takes a leading role in the budding new drug trade, and discovers the perks of wealth and power, but with a violent and tragic downside.

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details
Birds of Passage
Director Cristina Gallego Ciro Guerra
Country Colombia
Genre Drama
Writer Jacques Toulemonde Vidal Maria Camila Arias
Producer Cristina Gallego
Production Year 2018

Tiempo Compartido

Production Year 2017
Time Share (Tiempo Compartido) - Still 2
A film still from Time Share (Tiempo Compartido by Sebastián Hofmann, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Matias Penachino.
Time Share (Tiempo Compartido) - Still 5
Luis Gerardo Mendez and Andres Almeid appear in Time Share (Tiempo Compartido by Sebastián Hofmann, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Matias Penachino.
Time Share (Tiempo Compartido) - Still 1
Luis Gerardo Mendez appears in Time Share (Tiempo Compartido by Sebastián Hofmann. Photo by Matias Penachino. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
Time Share (Tiempo Compartido) - Still 4
Miguel Rodarte appears in Time Share (Tiempo Compartido by Sebastián Hofmann, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Matias Penachino.
Time Share (Tiempo Compartido) - Still 3
Luis Gerardo Mendez and Andres Almeida appear in Time Share (Tiempo Compartido by Sebastián Hofmann, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Matias Penachino.
Synopsis

Pedro and Eva arrive at the Vistamar mega-resort to “heal” their lives. Settling into a private villa with their young son, they’re surprised to find another family at the door; a clerical mistake has left them double-booked. The families make do, attending the resort’s time-share seminar and enjoying its pools and activities, and they are catered to by the staff of “leisure experts,” including Andres and Gloria, an estranged, middle-aged couple. While Gloria advances her career, Andres toils in a laundry job, dubious of the resort’s new corporate ownership. As Pedro becomes paranoid that his family is being pried away from him, he and Andres band together to expose the sinister forces at work in the tropical paradise. The film stars Luis Gerardo Méndez (Club de Cuervos), RJ Mitte, Miguel Rodarte, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Montserrat Maranon, and Andrés Almeida.


Film Details
Time Share
Director Sebastián Hofmann
Country Netherlands Mexico
Genre Drama
Writer Sebastián Hofmann Julio Chavezmontes
Producer Julio Chavezmontes
Production Year 2017
Running Time 96 minutes

El ángel

Director Luis Ortega
Country Spain, Argentina
Production Year 2018
El Angel - official still
'El Angel' Courtesy of the filmmakers
Synopsis

Based on the true story of Carlos Eduardo Robledo Puch (aka “El ángel de la muerte”), Luis Ortega’s film tells the story of the most famous serial killer in Argentina’s history. El ángel kicks off the story when Carlitos (Lorenzo Ferro) meets Ramon at his new school. Wanting to impress his new friend, Carlitos will begin the path that’ll make him a thief and a murderer. With his baby face and his blond curls the young killer became a celebrity when his exploits (which included over forty thefts and eleven homicides) were exposed and he was captured.

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details

Virus Tropical

Country Colombia
Production Year 2017
Virus Tropical AFICHE 01
'Virus Tropical' still courtesy of Animation is Film Festival
AFICHE 02
'Virus Tropical' still courtesy of Animation is Film Festival
Synopsis

Adapted from a graphic novel memoir by Colombian-Ecuadorian cartoonist Paola Gaviria (aka Power Paola), the black and white, Spanish-language animated film features Paola (voiced by María Cecilia Sánchez), an exceptional and independent young girl who grew up between Ecuador and Colombia and is trying to find her place in the world. But growing up in a traditional Colombian family with an estranged priest as a father, a psychic as a mother and two older sisters, gives Paola a unique perspective on life, which shapes her personality. It is reported that this coming-of-age, adult-themed animation contains approximately 5,000 individual drawings created by Gaviria.

Kiko Martinez

Film Details

Director Santiago Caicedo
Country Colombia
Genre Animation
Writer Enrique Lozano
Producer Carolina Barrera Quevedo
Production Year 2017
Running Time 97 minutes

Dry Martina

Director Che Sandoval
Country Chile, Argentina
Production Year 2018
Dry Martina 03
'Dry Martina' Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival
Dry Martina 02
'Dry Martina' Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival
Dry Martina 01
'Dry Martina' Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival
Synopsis

One-time pop star Martina has hit rock bottom: no career, no relationship, no sex drive, and, most of all, no direction forward. But then, persistent fangirl Francisca pressures her way into Martina’s apartment, revealing that she believes herself to be Martina’s long-lost sister—and, at the same time, Francisca’s boyfriend César catches Martina’s eye, stirring her previously dormant desire. In a flash, the Argentine singer is flying to Chile to pursue this promising young lover and, while she’s at it, a better sense of self. Writer-director Che Sandoval deftly mingles the passions, obsessions, and heartbreaks of his characters in this fresh, comic take on the road movie, one predicated on Martina’s search for inspiration, both in the bedroom and out. Antonella Costa, marvelous in the title role, captures Martina’s overconfidence with humor and sensitivity. As her unease in this new land evaporates, she starts to warm to the idea of a new family, and she comes to terms with a lesson from Franscisca’s search for a sibling, audiences are treated to the blooming of a new type of Martina—funny, sexy, and in control of her destiny.


Film Details

Director Che Sandoval
Country Chile Argentina
Genre Comedy Drama
Writer Che Sandoval
Producer Florencia Larrea Gregorio González Natacha Cervi Hernán Musaluppi
Production Year 2018
Running Time 95 minutes

Cómprame un revólver

Country Mexico
Production Year 2018
Buy Me A Gun 01
'Buy Me A Gun' still courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
Buy Me A Gun 02
'Buy Me A Gun' still courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
Synopsis

In a world overcome with violence, where women are prostituted and murdered, a girl wears a Hulk mask and a chain around her ankle to hide her gender and help her dad, a tormented addict, take care of an abandoned baseball field where drug dealers play.


Film Details
Buy Me A Gun
Director Julio Hernández Cordón
Country Mexico
Genre Drama
Writer Julio Hernández Cordón
Producer Maria Jose Cordova Rodrigo Sebastian Gonzalez Rafael Ley
Production Year 2018
Running Time 60 minutes

As boas maneiras

Country France, Brazil
Production Year 2017
Good Manners 01
'Good Manners' still courtesy of AFI Fest
Good Manners 02
Courtesy of AFI Fest
Synopsis

Bathed in the blue hues of full moonlit nights, this Brazilian werewolf horror film follows Clara, a nurse from the outskirts of São Paulo who takes a job as a nanny for a well-to-do pregnant young woman. What starts as a regular caretaker gig soon takes a turn for the weird when the woman’s odd cravings for red meat and late-night sleepwalking strolls reveal that there may be something unnatural about her pregnancy. Eerie and shot with a lurid formalism that makes it all the scarier (São Paulo’s nights have looked more frightening), Good Manners delivers on its chills and thrills.

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details
Good Manners
Director Marco Dutra Juliana Rojas
Country France Brazil
Genre Fantasy Horror
Writer Marco Dutra Juliana Rojas
Production Year 2017
Running Time 135 minutes

Cocote

Production Year 2017
cocote_03
'Cocote' still courtesy of Toronto Film Festival.
Synopsis

Dominican filmmaker Nelson Carlo de los Santos Arias presents a layered, abstract portrait of his home island in his latest film, Cocote. Using a crime as a starting point, de los Santos Arias explores the lurking violence, corruption, class conflicts, and many opposing cultures and world views co-existing in contemporary Dominican Republic while evoking the avant-garde sensibility of Glauber Rocha. Evangelical Christian Alberto works as a gardener on a wealthy estate in Santo Domingo. When his father is murdered, he returns to the countryside of his childhood for the funeral. There, Alberto clashes with his sister, whose very different beliefs — those practiced by the lower classes on the island, a holdover from pre-colonial times — triggers a tense homecoming. Compounding Alberto’s anxieties, his family expects him to avenge his father’s death.


Film Details

Un Traductor

Country Canada, Cuba
Production Year 2017
un Traductor - Still 2
Maricel Álvarez appears in Un Traductor by Rodrigo Barriuso and Sebastián Barriuso, an official selection of 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Gabriel Guerra Bianchini.
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Rodrigo Santoro appears in Un Traductor by Rodrigo Barriuso and Sebastián Barriuso, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Gabriel Guerra Bianchini.
Un Traductor - Still 4
Rodrigo Santoro appears in Un Traductor by Rodrigo Barriuso and Sebastián Barriuso, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Gabriel Guerra Bianchini.
Un Traductor - Still 5
Rodrigo Santoro appears in Un Traductor by Rodrigo Barriuso and Sebastián Barriuso, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Gabriel Guerra Bianchini.
Un Traductor - Still 3
Rodrigo Santoro and Yoandra Surez appear in Un Traductor by Rodrigo Barriuso and Sebastián Barriuso, an official selection of 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Gabriel Guerra Bianchini.
Synopsis

In 1989 Havana, Russian literature professor Malin (Rodrigo Santoro) gets a mysterious note at the university with orders from the government sending him to a local hospital, where he learns he is expected to act as translator between the Cuban doctors and the families of young patients from the Chernobyl disaster. Initially raging against his new role, Malin is forced to stay on, and he eventually becomes deeply devoted to his patients. But while he becomes “king of the kids” at the hospital, his relationships with his pregnant wife and young son suffer. Meanwhile, life around all of them shifts as the “Special Period”—the economic crisis in Cuba that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union—begins. Rooted in the little-known true story of how twenty thousand Chernobyl victims were eventually treated in Cuba, Un Traductor immerses an emotional drama in crisply shot, beautifully realized period detail of Havana in 1989.


Film Details

Director Rodrigo Barriuso Sebastián Barriuso
Country Canada Cuba
Genre Drama
Writer Lindsay Gossling
Producer Sebastián Barriuso Lindsay Gossling
Production Year 2017
Running Time 107 minutes
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