It’s that time of the year again! Whether you like it or not awards season is now in full swing. And while we’ll admit the Oscars are hit and miss with, well, pretty much everything (remember #OscarSoWhite?) there is one category that always delivers: Best Foreign Language Film. Because of its constraints (each country submits one film) as well as its global purview, it most often showcases some of the best work from around the world. Just last year Chile’s Sebastián Lelio took gold for his tender A Fantastic Woman. The past ten years alone has seen nominations for Mexico (Biutiful), Argentina (winner The Secret in Their EyesWild Tales), Peru (The Milk of Sorrow), Colombia (Embrace of the Serpent) and Chile again (No).

With Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma in the running, it’s safe to say that at least one slot in the category will be taken by a Latin American filmmaker. As to who might join the Mexican filmmaker, the Academy has finally unveiled the list of all eligible films. There are 87 films in competition from all over the world (not Cuba, sadly). And we’ve gone ahead and singled out every single submission from Latin America, from that black-and-white Netflix film and fest favorites from Colombia and the Dominican Republic, all the way to the first-ever film shot entirely in the Aymara Language.

Consider the full list below a way to keep track of the best of Latin American cinema you should catch in the next few months ahead of Oscar nominations.

From all eligible movies, nine will be announced in mid-December as part of the short list. From that list, Academy members will vote and select five as the official nominees. Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards are announced on January 22, 2019.

1

El ángel

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

SUBMITTED BY ARGENTINA

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
2

Muralla

Country Bolivia
Production Year 2018

BOLIVIA

Synopsis

Jorge “Muralla” Rivera was a famous goalkeeper. Today he’s an alcoholic bus driver that sells a girl to a sex trafficking network to pay for his sick son’s surgery. But when the boy dies and his ghost torments Jorge, this former goalie will seek redemption by trying to rescue the girl he sold, although it may mean his own downfall. Directed by Rodrigo Patino and starring Fernando Arze as the titular goalkeeper, this Bolivian thriller blends high-octane sequences with a touching story of a man doing everything he can to do the right thing.


Film Details
The Goalkeeper
Director Rodrigo Patino
Country Bolivia
Genre Thriller
Writer Fernando Arze Rodrigo Patino Fernanda Rossi Camila Urioste
Producer Claudia Gaensel Leonel Fransezze
Production Year 2018
Running Time 90 minutes
3

O Grande Circo Místico

Country Brazil
Production Year 2018
O Grande Circo Mistico 01
'O Grande Circo Mistico'
O Grande Circo Mistico 02
'O Grande Circo Mistico'
O Grande Circo Mistico 03
'O Grande Circo Mistico'

SUBMITTED BY BRAZIL

Synopsis

Directed by Brazilian filmmaker Cacá Diegues,The Great Mystic Circus is based on a poem in Jorge de Lima’s 1938 book A Túnica Inconsútil. The film tells the story of 5 generations of the same circus family. From the opening of the Great Mystic Circus in 1910 to the present day, we’re guided by Celavi, the master of ceremonies who never grows old. We follow the adventures and loves of the Knieps, from apogee to decadence, to the surprising finale, in a film in which reality and fantasy meet in a mystical universe.

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details
The Great Mystical Circus
Director Carlos Diegues
Country Brazil
Genre Drama
Producer Luís Galvão Teles Renata Almeida Magalhães
Production Year 2018
4

...Y de Pronto el Amanecer

Country Chile
Production Year 2017

SUBMITTED BY CHILE

Synopsis

Pancho Veloso, is an aging tabloid writer who returns to his hometown in Chile’s Patagonia four decades after fleeing it during the repressive Pinochet regime. In hopes of writing a worthy story about that region at the end of the world, he’ll have to confront his own past and leave his city-living posturing behind. That’s how he’ll be able to write his first ever novel, the ones who’ll turn his friends and lovers into characters and may yet turn him into a real-life artist.


Film Details
...And Suddenly the Dawn
Director Silvio Caiozzi
Country Chile
Genre Drama
Writer Silvio Caiozzi Jaime Casas
Producer Guadalupe Bornand Silvio Caiozzi
Production Year 2017
Running Time 195 minutes
5

Pajaros de verano

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

SUBMITTED BY COLOMBIA

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
6

Medea

Production Year 2016
medea MV5BZGY5ZDIwOGUtZDZlNi00[email protected]._V1_
'Medea' still. Courtesy of International Film Festival Panama

SUBMITTED BY COSTA RICA

Synopsis

In her directorial debut, Costa Rican director Alexandra Latishev Salazar paints a powerful portrait of a lost young woman in search of meaning. María José’s life moves back and forth between the monotony of classes, her eternally distant parents, rugby training, and wild nights with her friend, Carlos. Emotionally disconnected from her environment,she meets Javier, with whom she struggles to build a relationship. Through it all, she tries to live a normal life while carrying a secret no one wants to acknowledge.


Film Details

Director Alexandra Latishev Salazar
Country Costa Rica Chile Argentina
Genre Drama
Writer Alexandra Latishev Salazar
Producer Iván Molina Luis Smok Paz Fábrega
Production Year 2016
Running Time 73 minutes
7

Cocote

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

SUBMITTED BY DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

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
8

A Son of Man

Country Ecuador
Production Year 2018

SUBMITTED BY ECUADOR

Synopsis

Pipe is invited to join his mysterious father on a quest for the lost Inca gold. But as they journey deeper into the jungle, he understands that they cannot escape the family demons that are traveling with them. Entirely shot by drones and featuring a cast of nonprofessional actors to better mimic the anthropological sensibility it’s trying to convey, Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvador’s film (he also goes by Jamaicanoproblem) is a commentary on contemporary Ecuador as well as on its colonial past. But it’s also, at its heart, a coming of age film centered on family.


Film Details
9

Roma

Country Mexico
Production Year 2018
Roma still 01
'Roma' courtesy of TIFF

SUBMITTED BY MEXICO

Synopsis

Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) works as a live-in maid and nanny for an upper-middle-class family in Mexico City’s Roma district. When the family patriarch departs for an unusually protracted business trip, his wife Sofia (Marina de Tavira) is left at home. Inhabiting a role somewhere between family member and employee, Cleo helps Sofia and the kids through a period of difficulty, just as she is dumped by her self-absorbed boyfriend when he discovers she is pregnant. As both women face the possibility of single motherhood, it’s obvious that their disparate levels of social status will differently impact their possible futures. Roma subtly explores these ethnic and class divisions with a potent sense of emotional intimacy and historical acuteness.


Film Details

Director Alfonso Cuarón
Country Mexico
Genre Drama
Writer Alfonso Cuarón
Producer Gabriela Rodriguez Alfonso Cuaron Nicolás Celis
Production Year 2018
Running Time 135 minutes
10

Ruben Blades Is Not My Name

Director Abner Benaim
Production Year 2018

SUBMITTED BY PANAMA

Synopsis

Considered by many as the first musician to bring salsa music to an international audience, Panamanian singer, songwriter, and actor Ruben Blades is highlighted in a documentary that spans his 50-year career and gives audiences an in-depth look at his musical and political aspirations (does he really want to run for president of Panama?) and attempts to help Blades decide what the term legacy actually means. Blades has won 17 Grammys, earned a law degree from Harvard University and has starred in such films as the 1988 comedy drama The Milagro Beanfield War, 2000’s drama All the Pretty Horses and 2016’s biopic Hands of Stone. He currently stars in TV’s Fear the Walking Dead.

Kiko Martinez

Film Details

Director Abner Benaim
Country Panama Colombia Argentina
Genre Documentary
Producer Abner Benaim Gema Juarez Allen Cristina Gallego
Production Year 2018
Running Time 85 minutes
11

Las herederas

Production Year 2018
Las Herederas 01
'Las Herederas' Courtesy of Newfest

SUBMITTED BY PARAGUAY

Synopsis

Chela (Ana Brun) and Chiquita (Margarita Irun) are a middle aged lesbian couple living in present day Asunción, Paraguay. Descendants of Paraguayan aristocracy, the women have enjoyed a silver spoon lifestyle together for thirty years. When the couple is abruptly hit by financial hardship, they scramble to find work and auction off their respective heirlooms—silver spoons included—to stay afloat. When Chiquita is imprisoned for her fraudulent side hustle, Chela begins working as a taxi driver, gradually building new relationships and autonomy for the first time in her life. Each caged—one by a gutted lovenest, the other by razor wire—an irremediable distance grows between the two women. Set in writer-director Marcelo Martinessi’s hometown, The Heiresses embraces minimal dialogue, a twilight palette, and unconventional beauty to tell a melancholy yet satisfying story of new beginnings.


Film Details
The Heiresses
Director Marcelo Martinessi
Country Norway Paraguay Germany Uruguay France Brazil
Genre Drama
Writer Marcelo Martinessi
Producer Sebastián Peña Escobar Marcelo Martinessi
Production Year 2018
Running Time 98 minutes
12

Wiñaypacha

Country Peru
Production Year 2018
Winaypacha
Courtesy of Cineaparte

SUBMITTED BY PERU

Synopsis

Peruvian director Oscar Catacora‘s film is a study in minimalism. It features only two characters: Willka and Phaxsi. The elderly couple spend their days fending for themselves in the Andes, chatting only with one another about days gone by and about the son they hope will return once more to their lives. Set against the foggy verdant mountains of Peru, Willka and Phaxsi’s story is a deeply personal one for Catacora, who grew up with his grandparents in not too dissimilar circumstances.

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details
Eternity
Director Óscar Catacora
Country Peru
Genre Drama
Writer Óscar Catacora
Producer Tito Catacora
Production Year 2018
Running Time 86 minutes
13

La noche de 12 años

Country Uruguay
Production Year 2018

SUBMITTED BY URUGUAY

Synopsis

It is 1973. Uruguay is governed by a military dictatorship. One autumn night, three Tupamaro prisoners (played by Alfonso Tort, Antonio de la Torre, and Chino Darín) are taken from their jail cells in a secret military operation. The order is precise: “As we can’t kill them, let’s drive them mad.” The three men will remain in solitary confinement for twelve years, enduring the most grueling of tortures — all designed to drive them mad. Among them is Pepe Mujica (de la Torre), who later went on to become president of Uruguay. Based on the book Memorias del calabozo by Mauricio Rosencof and Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro, the two men who suffered alongside Mujica, this is a potent and visceral political film.


Film Details
Twelve-Year Night
Director Álvaro Brechner
Country Uruguay
Genre Crime Drama
Writer Álvaro Brechner
Producer Philippe Gompel Birgit Kemner Fernando Sokolowicz Mariela Besuievsky
Production Year 2018
Running Time 122 minutes
14

La familia

Production Year 2017
La-familia NYLFF
'La familia' still courtesy of New York Latino Film Festival

SUBMITTED BY VENEZUELA

Synopsis

Twelve-year-old Pedro roams the streets with his friends, raised by the violent urban atmosphere around him in a working class district of Caracas. After Pedro seriously injures another boy in a rough game of play, single father Andrés decides they must flee to hide. Andrés will realize he is a father incapable of controlling his own teenage son, but their situation will bring them closer than they have ever been. Director Gustavo Rondón’s paints a gritty, fast-paced picture of the violence of everyday life in Venezuela’s capital city while telling the story of a father willing to sacrifice everything for his son.


Film Details
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