One of the joys of attending film festivals is the chance to discover hidden gems. Seeing that future indie hit no one has yet to see. Or that promising director that wasn’t on your radar. Or the actress you’d never heard about knocking it out of the park. At fests like Los Cabos International Festival, industry insiders get front row seats to projects that aren’t yet ready to screen for regular audiences. Their “Works in Progress” program is designed to help lure financing to get homegrown movies funded all the way so that the rest of us can enjoy them. Past films that were part of this incubator have included the lesbian rom-com Signature Move, the Darío Yazbek Bernal-starrer Los paisajesand even this year’s Clases de historiaOne year’s “Work in Progress” is next year’s breakout hit.

And with that in mind, we’ve singled out the five “Works in Progress” projects from this year’s fest that may well become your faves once they’re released next year. Think of them as the first entries in our 2019 must-see list.

1

Chèche Lavi (Looking for Life)

Courtesy of filmmakers

Documentary (USA, Mexico)
Director: Samuel Ellison
Producers: Kyle Martin, Abraham Ávila, Kim Parker, Rachel Cantave, Nora Mendis

Two Haitian refugees find themselves stranded at the US-Mexico border with no way forward and no one to depend on but each other. They build an unexpectedly tender brotherhood while a geopolitical storm swirls around them until the immigration machine sends them drifting towards drastically different futures, and a new wall rises on the horizon.

2

Días de invierno (Days of Winter)

Courtesy of filmmakers

Drama (Mexico)
Director: Jaiziel Hernández
Producer: Edgar Nito, Jaiziel Hernández, Raymundo Hernández, Daniel Cabello

Néstor works the night shift in a hotel, but he is thinking about moving to Atlanta with his sister. However, he does not want to leave his mother, Lilia, alone since he’s the only one that still lives with her. Lilia is going through something similar: she has lost her job and is looking for a way to get her life back on track. After Lilia’s older son pays them a visit and after several unsuccessful attempts to sell the family’s house, both understand that it’s time to leave the past behind and move on.

3

El deseo de Ana (Ana’s Desire)

Courtesy of filmmakers

Drama (Mexico)
Director: Emilio Santoyo
Producers: Araceli Velázquez Silva, Valeria Arriñez Sanjines

Brother and sister are reunited after years of absence. The encounter unleashes a series of hidden emotions and reveals a secret they have suppressed for a long time.

4

Ya no estoy aquí (I’m No Longer Here)

Courtesy of Cinereach

Drama (Mexico)
Director: Fernando Frias
Producers: Alberto Muffelmann, Gerardo Gatica, Gerry Kim

Ya no estoy aquí traces the journey of Ulises Sampedro, a 17-year-old Mexican boy who, after an unfortunate misunderstanding with members of a local cartel, is forced to migrate to the US. He leaves behind what defines him most – his crew and the dance parties he loves so much. The film is told through dual timelines, which switch from past to present in Monterrey, Mexico and Queens, New York.

5

Mano de obra (Labor)

Drama (Mexico)
Director: David Zonana
Producers: Michel Franco, Darío Yazbek Bernal

Francisco, a 35-year-old construction worker in Mexico City, is building one of the many luxurious houses in the socially stratified city. After his brother’s accidental death at the construction site, he learns that his widowed sister-in-law will not receive compensation because his brother was allegedly drunk at the time of his death. Francisco seeks justice for his brother in this drama starring real-life construction workers.

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