With a poster featuring an image of racial unity and cross-cultural empowerment, this year’s Cine+Mas: San Francisco Latino Film Festival is clearly aiming to present timely on screen stories about the Latino experience. True to that mission, its opening film – the punny title, Ruta Madre – will take audiences on a cross-country trek from San Diego through Baja and into Mexico where a young Mexican-American will try and get over his recent heartbreak by learning more about his heritage. The weeks-long festival is truly a celebration of the strong filmmaking work coming from all across the Americas. It’s why they’ll be screening movies from Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, Honduras, and Nicaragua, among others.

In addition to that wide selection of projects, Cine+Mas partnered with the San Francisco Public Library to present a special series examining the women of the golden era who made significant contributions to the silver screen. The one-day screening series – which will be free to the public – will feature the spooky Mexican Spitfire Sees a Ghost, starring Lupe Velez, the Western High Noon which stars Katy Jurado, and the legendary Maria Felix vehicle Doña Diabla/Lady Devil. 

With director Q&As throughout and plenty of programs like “¡Viva Mexico!”, “Caribbean Cruise!” and “Music in Film,” the fest truly has something for everyone. We know you won’t be able to catch everything on offer so we’ve singled out 15 flicks – from Peruvian marital thrillers to Cuban rom-coms – to keep an eye out for. Check out our list of highlights below.

Cine+Mas: San Francisco Latino Film Fest runs Sept 15 – 30, 2017

1

La soledad

Country Venezuela
Production Year 2016
Synopsis

Imagined as a poetic metaphor for Venezuela’s current socio-political crisis, director Jorge Thielen Armand set La soledad in his grandparents’ old home which was then inhabited by their lifelong maid and grandson (who play themselves in the film). As young José learns that the nature-riddled and near-dilapidated house will be demolished, he sets out to find the treasure legend tells has been buried in the estate. He sees it as his last chance at providing for his grandmother and getting them out of their squatting situation. But he’ll soon find this get rich quick scheme may not be the best way out of the poverty he’s come to know. Mixing fiction with documentary flair, La soledad is a timely indictment of the inequality that’s run rampant in Venezuela.

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details
The Solitude
Director Jorge Thielen Armand
Country Venezuela
Genre Docudrama
Writer Rodrigo Michelangeli Jorge Thielen Armand
Producer Manon Ardisson
Production Year 2016
Running Time 89 minutes
2

Ó Paí, Ó

Country Brazil
Production Year 2007
Synopsis

It is the last day of the most famous carnival in the world and a group of residents of Pelourinho, the historical center of Salvador, Bahia, living in a run-down tenement house are ready to have fun. They may not have the means, but that won’t stop them from embracing the vibrancy of Brazil’s carnival. Starring Narcos‘ Wagner Moura and a star turn by Lázaro Ramos (who went on to reprise his role of Roque in Globo’s television spinoff), Ó Paí, Ó is a colorful and music-infused celebration of life among fabulous friends.

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details
Ó Pai, Ó - Look at This
Director Monique Gardenberg
Country Brazil
Genre Music Comedy
Writer Monique Gardenberg
Producer Paula Lavigne Sara Silveira
Production Year 2007
Running Time 96 minutes
3

Raising Zoey

Production Year 2016
Raising Zoey
'Raising Zoey' still. Courtesy of Dante Alencastre
Synopsis

Raising Zoey depicts an eventful year in the life of transgender 13 year old girl, Zoey Luna, her mom, Ofelia and her older sister, Letty.

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details

Director Dante Alencastre
Country United States
Genre Documentary
Producer Dante Alencastre John Johnston
Production Year 2016
Running Time 54 minutes
4

El techo

Country Nicaragua, Cuba
Production Year 2016
On the roof 03 el techo
'El techo' still courtesy of Miami Film Festival
Synopsis

A pizzeria may seem a modest venture, but for the three enterprising habaneros at the center of Cuban filmmaker Patricia Ramos’ winsome feature debut, success in the pizza business holds the promise of prosperity, purpose and, just maybe, love and happiness. A deliciously off-beat romantic comedy, On the Roof offers an impeccable balance of colloquial charm and universal appeal. Ramos and her excellent cast have crafted highly relatable characters with varying degrees of ambition, ingenuity and quirk. Some current Cuban films seek to correct sweeping social ailments; by contrast, Ramos and her collaborators understand that sometimes the world is changed one dream at a time


Film Details
On the Roof
Director Patricia Ramos
Country Nicaragua Cuba
Genre Romantic Comedy
Writer Patricia Ramos
Producer Humberto Jiménez Penha
Production Year 2016
5

Salsipuedes

Country Panama
Production Year 2016
Synopsis

When his father, a famed boxer, is sentenced to jail, Andres’s family decide that it’s best to ship off the young boy to Washington where he’ll have a chance to have a better life. But ten years later, when he returns to Panama to mourn his grandfather, Andres’s life (and his relationship with his father, family, and childhood sweetheart) will upend everything he had established for himself abroad. Named after a fictional run-down neighborhood in Panama City that all but tells you to get out while you can, Salsipuedes is at once a celebration of the resilience of Panamanians and an indictment of the status quo which keeps people in lower class barrios from the presumed economic boon the country so exults.

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details

Director Ricardo Aguilar Navarro Manolito Rodriguez
Country Panama
Writer Manolito Rodriguez
Producer Ricardo Aguilar Navarro
Production Year 2016
Running Time 95 minutes
6

Sin muertos no hay carnaval

Production Year 2016
Sin Muertos No Hay Carnaval
'Sin Muertos No Hay Carnaval' courtesy of EFFNY17
Synopsis

Looking at the social tensions in Guayaquil, Sebastián Cordero crafts this unflinching drama about the conflict between a wealthy young man and the 250 families who are squatting in the territory he’s just inherited from his father. Aiming for a sleek thriller aesthetic rooted in the broken down neighborhoods of Guayaquil, Cordero’s film reveals the violence and corruption that unfortunately echoes what the film’s English title promises us: “Such is the life in the Tropics.”

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details
Such is Life in the Tropics
Director Sebastían Cordero
Country Ecuador Germany Mexico
Writer Sebastián Cordero Andrés Crespo
Producer Sebastián Cordero Arturo Yepez Bertha Navarro
Production Year 2016
7

La Habitación

Country Poland, Mexico
Production Year 2016
Synopsis

Can a room tell the history of a country? That’s the premise behind this anthology film. Directed by 8 different filmmakers, including Natalia Beristáin, Carlos Carrera and Alfonso Pineda Ulloa, Tales of Mexico offers vignettes set in key moments of the country’s 20th Century history—the Ten Tragic Days of the Mexican Revolution, the anti-Chinese campaign, the Tlatelolco Massacre, and the 1985 Earthquake. Together they weave together a painfully personal tapestry of the impact national events have on the everyday lives of its population.

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details
8

Voices Beyond the Wall: Twelve Poems from the Murder Capital of the World

Director Brad Coley
Country Honduras
Production Year 2016
Synopsis

Over the last quarter-century, in a bunker-like building in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, 70 girls ranging in age from one to 18 have found refuge from poverty and violence. Our Little Roses is Honduras’ only orphanage for girls. Its charges are looked after by a devoted staff who supply food, shelter, medical attention and nurturing care. The debut documentary from filmmaker Brad Coley is a moving, eye-opening tribute to the courageous work performed at Our Little Roses. Voices Beyond the Wall tracks the long and difficult process of recovering from trauma, healing deep wounds, and preparing for a better future.


Film Details

Director Brad Coley
Country Honduras
Genre Documentary
Producer Cassidy Friedman
Production Year 2016
Running Time 87 minutes
9

Carpinteros

Production Year 2016
Synopsis

Tall, dark, and handsome, Julián steps off a bus, hands over his clothes, gets his long curly locks chopped off, and becomes fresh meat walking inside the Najayo Prison in the Dominican Republic. He locates his cellblock underneath the moist corner where the Woodpeckers perch. Woodpeckers—prisoners who romance ladies incarcerated at the women’s prison 150 meters across the way—spend their days in affectionate conversation with their lovers through sign language. When Julián encounters Yanelly, a gorgeous spitfire of a woman, he finds love in the last place he imagined. Now he must find a way, through cement, barbed wire, dozens of guards, and murderous exes to win Yanelly’s love, all the while keeping it secret.


Film Details
Woodpeckers
Director Jose Maria Cabral
Country Dominican Republic
Genre Drama
Writer Jose Maria Cabral
Producer Jose Maria Cabral Maria Jose Ripoll
Production Year 2016
Running Time 107 minutes
10

Visitor’s Day

Director Nicole Opper
Production Year 2016
Synopsis

Visitor’s Day is an observational documentary centered on Juan Carlos. At sixteen, the young man had already escaped an abusive home and lived in the streets of Mexico City before having found himself at IPODERAC. Founded in Puebla, the unique group home fosters a positive sense of community where everyone involved helps in the enterprise’s production of artisanal goat cheese. Learning the ropes of his newfound home, we slowly see Juan Carlos coming to terms with his new life. Will the upcoming visitor’s day disrupt his progress?

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details

Director Nicole Opper
Country United States
Genre Documentary
Producer Manuel Adrian Tsingaris Carlo Corea
Production Year 2016
Running Time 75 minutes
11

Ruta Madre

Production Year 2016
Ruta_Madre
Courtesy of Cine+Mas
Synopsis

After his first love breaks his heart, a young American singer reluctantly leaves his home in San Diego, California and embarks on an epic road trip through Baja with his uncle in order to reconnect with his Mexican roots. A dusty-streaked road trip/odd couple film, Ruta Madre is full of over-the-top characters including a soothsaying bruja, bizarre scenarios that end up involving a burro, and even a lovers spat that reveals a pair of boxer briefs with the word “VIVA” written on them.

 

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details

Director Agustin Castaneda
Country Mexico United States
Genre Comedy Drama
Writer Joey Molina Agustin Castaneda
Producer Javier Bertran Jeros Bertran
Production Year 2016
Running Time 97 minutes
12

El sueño del Mara'akame

Country Mexico
Production Year 2016
Maraakame
Courtesy of Cine+Mas
Synopsis

Nieri is a young Huichol (indigenous Mexican) in the country, whose dream is travel with his rock band to play a concert in Mexico City. But his father, a shaman, wants to start him on his path to becoming a spiritual healer. He must find the Blue Deer in his dreams. What does this mean?


Film Details
Mara ‘Akame’s Dream
Director Federico Cecchetti
Country Mexico
Genre Drama
Writer Federico Cecchetti
Producer Masha Kostiurina
Production Year 2016
Running Time 90 minutes
13

Últimos días en La Habana

Country Cuba, Spain
Production Year 2016
Last Days in Havana
Courtesy of Cine+Mas
Synopsis

Miguel and Diego are friends sharing an apartment in Central Havana. Miguel – a dishwasher at a restaurant, who dreams of leaving Cuba for New York is waiting for his exit visa – and Diego, a gay man afflicted by AIDS who dreams and cheerfulness to good use in his struggle to carry on enjoying every single day of his life from a rickety old bed in his small bedroom. This peculiar pair are surrounded by characters from all walks of life.


Film Details
Last Days in Havana
Director Fernando Pérez
Country Cuba Spain
Genre Comedy Drama
Writer Fernando Pérez Abel Rodríguez
Producer Danilo León José María Morales
Production Year 2016
Running Time 93 minutes
14

Trails of Hope and Terror

Production Year 2016
Synopsis

Based on a book of the same title, Trails of Hope and Terror attempts to answer why we, in the United States, have an immigration dilemma along our southern border. Filmmakers traveled to the US/Mexico to walk the desert and interview humanitarian groups, social workers, legal professionals, the undocumented, and anti-immigration protesters. The film explores the historical and economic reasons for the current immigration crisis and how politicians have used this issue to garner votes.


Film Details

Director Vincent De La Torre
Country Mexico United States
Genre Documentary
Writer Miguel A. De La Torre
Producer Deborah De La Torre
Production Year 2016
Running Time 53 minutes
15

La última tarde

Director Joel Calero
Country Peru, Colombia
Production Year 2016
The-Last-Afternoon
Courtesy of Cine+Mas
Synopsis

Laura was a young woman from Lima’s upper class who met Ramon, an idealistic university student, in Cusco. Today they meet again to sign their divorce papers. Nothing, not even the past, will be safe this day.


Film Details
One Last Afternoon
Director Joel Calero
Country Peru Colombia
Genre Thriller Drama
Production Year 2016
Running Time 81 minutes