It’s officially awards season. From here on out, you won’t be able to find a gala or a film festival that doesn’t want to boast that its movie picks will be amply rewarded by critics and guilds alike. At the heart of it all is this year’s AFI Fest in Hollywood’s own backyard. Gathering a slew of glittering screenings of prestige films featuring some choice A-listers (including Michelle Williams, Christian Bale, Mary J. Blige, and James Franco, among others) opens this year with Netflix’s southern tale of race acrimony in 1940s Mississippi, Mudbound, and closes with Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World, about the 1973 kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III.

As always, you want to look beyond the flashy galas to find a wealth of amazing Latino projects that should remind Angelenos (and Oscar voters, one hopes) of the amazing work being produced all around the continent. So, in addition to urging you to catch Juan Ibáñez‘s classic 1967 flick Los caifanes (shown as part of the fest’s Cinema Legacy program), we wanted to bring the following 11 films to your attention. From werewolf horror films and punk band breakup shorts to Sebastían Lelio’s revelatory follow-up to Gloria and Del Toro’s awards-bound Cold War fantasy fable, here’s everything Latino playing at the Los Angeles festival this year.

AFI Fest runs November 9 – 16, 2017.

1

The Shape of Water

Production Year 2017
Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer in the film THE SHAPE OF WATER. P hoto courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved
Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer in the film THE SHAPE OF WATER. Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved
trailer-guillermo-del-toros-the-shape-of-water-696x464
'The Shape of Water' trailer screenshot
Sally Hawkins in the film THE SHAPE OF WATER. Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved
Sally Hawkins in the film THE SHAPE OF WATER. Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved
Synopsis

In 1963, Elisa (Sally Hawkins) works as a janitor at a US government laboratory. One night, a strange, amphibious creature (Guillermo del Toro regular Doug Jones) is wrangled into the facility. Elisa is more fascinated than frightened. What scares her more is the threat posed by the federal agent in charge (Michael Shannon). Cruel and self-serving, he seems convinced the surest way to handle the mysterious creature is to kill it. With the help of her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins), her co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer), and a sympathetic scientist (Michael Stuhlbarg), Elisa hatches a plan to save the creature’s life, at the risk of her own. Strange marvels abound in The Shape of Water. Marshalling these remarkable performances together with stunning production design, fluid camerawork, and Alexandre Desplat’s gorgeous score, del Toro delivers unforgettable film poetry.


Film Details

Director Guillermo del Toro
Country United States
Genre Fantasy Romance
Writer Vanessa Taylor Guillermo del Toro
Producer Guillermo del Toro J. Miles Dale
Production Year 2017
Running Time 123 minutes
2

Las hijas de Abril

Director Michel Franco
Country Mexico
Production Year 2017
Las Hijas de Abril Cannes 01
'Las hijas de Abril' still Courtesy of the Cannes Film Festival
Synopsis

A chilling examination of maternal instincts taken to extremes, the latest from Mexican writer-director Michel Franco (After Lucía) stars Spanish actress Emma Suárez as a woman whose fierce passion and cunning seem drawn equally from Greek tragedy and film noir. Seventeen years old and seven months pregnant, Valeria (Ana Valeria Becerril) appears beatific and content, living with her sister, Clara (Joanna Larequi), in a Puerto Vallarta bungalow and making plans for the future with her boyfriend, Mateo (Enrique Arrizon). Valeria had no plans to inform her estranged mother of her pregnancy, but after a call from Clara, April (Suárez) swoops in to offer abundant support. April is charming, youthful, energetic, and resourceful: an ideal grandmother. Once Valeria’s child is born, however, April’s take-charge attitude assumes terrifying hues.


Film Details
April's Daughter
Director Michel Franco
Country Mexico
Genre Drama
Writer Michel Franco
Producer Moisés Zonana Lorenzo Vigas Michel Franco
Production Year 2017
Running Time 103 minutes
3

Una mujer fantástica

Country Chile
Production Year 2017
Fantastic_Woman_01
'Una mujer fantastica' still courtesy of TIFF 2017
Synopsis

Marina (Daniela Vega), the transgender heroine of A Fantastic Woman, is beautiful, enigmatic, and plunged into a precarious situation after her boyfriend dies unexpectedly in her company. Fifty-seven-year-old divorcé Orlando (Francisco Reyes) wakes in the middle of the night, suffers an aneurism, and falls down some stairs, sustaining injuries that will come to haunt Marina after she takes him to the hospital and attempts to slip away before authorities and family members begin prying. Marina knows she’s regarded with suspicion for her youth, class, and, above all, gender status. She expects to gain little from Orlando’s demise, but the viciousness of Orlando’s son, the cold-heartedness of Orlando’s ex-wife, and the intrusiveness of a detective from the Sexual Offenses Investigation Unit force Marina to not only clear her name, but also to demand the very thing no one seems willing to give her: respect.


Film Details
A Fantastic Woman
Director Sebastían Lelio
Country Chile
Genre Drama
Writer Gonzalo Maza Sebastián Lelio
Producer Sebastián Lelio Gonzalo Maza Pablo Larraín Juan de Dios Larraín
Production Year 2017
Running Time 103 minutes
4

As boas maneiras

Country France, Brazil
Production Year 2017
Good Manners 01
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
5

Pendular

Director Júlia Murat
Production Year 2017
Synopsis

In Júlia Murat’s Pendular a sculptor and a dancer shack up in an expansive warehouse that will double as their studio. To keep things civil, they divide it equally, using tape to delineate their respective areas. But they soon find out that living in such close quarters while trying to follow their artistic goals is harder than they’d anticipated. Mixing contemporary dance sequences, steamy sex scenes, and bitter quarrels between the couple at hand, Murat’s third feature is a seductive look at the creative process.

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details

Director Júlia Murat
Country France Brazil Argentina
Genre Drama
Writer Júlia Murat Matias Mariani
Producer Tatiana Leite Júlia Murat
Production Year 2017
Running Time 108 minutes
6

El mar la mar

Production Year 2017
el mar la mar
Courtesy of NYFF55
el mar la mar 02
Courtesy of NYFF55
el mar la mar 03
Courtesy of NYFF55
Synopsis

The first collaboration between film and sound artist Bonnetta and filmmaker/anthropologist Sniadecki is a lyrical and highly topical film in which the Sonoran Desert, among the deadliest routes taken by those crossing from Mexico to the United States, is depicted a place of dramatic beauty and merciless danger. Haunting 16mm images of the unforgiving landscape and the human traces within it are supplemented with an intricate soundtrack of interwoven sounds and oral testimonies. Urgent yet never didactic, El mar la mar allows this symbolically fraught terrain to take shape in vivid sensory detail, and in so doing, suggests new possibilities for the political documentary.


Film Details

Director Joshua Bonnetta J.P. Sniadecki
Country United States
Genre Documentary
Producer Joshua Bonnetta J.P. Sniadecki
Production Year 2017
Running Time 94 minutes
7

Pet Rituals

Production Year 2016
Synopsis

Set right before a punk band is set to go on stage, its lead singer Anita (Sophia Dueñas) tries to break off her toxic relationship with the band’s drummer only to see their breakup take an explosive (literally!) turn.

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details

Director J. Casey Modderno
Country United States
Genre Short Music Drama
Writer Jarret Rosenblatt
Producer Thomas R. Burke
Production Year 2016
Running Time 20 minutes
8

El buzo

Country Mexico
Production Year 2016
Synopsis

Julio César Cu Cámara is the chief diver in the Mexico City sewer system. His job is to repair pumps and dislodge garbage that flows into the gutters to maintain the circulation of sewage waters.


Film Details
The Diver
Director Esteban Arrangoiz
Country Mexico
Genre Short Film Documentary
Writer Esteban Arrangoiz
Producer María del Carmen de Lara Mariana Rodríguez Esteban Arrangoiz
Production Year 2016
Running Time 16 minutes
9

Victor & Isolina

Production Year 2016
Synopsis

Creatively visualized through 3D printing, two elderly Latinos embark on a resonating he said/she said account of the events that led them to live separately after more than 50 quirky and stressful years together.


Film Details

Director William Caballero
Country United States
Genre Animation Short Film
Producer William D. Caballero Louis E. Perego Moreno Elaine del Valle
Production Year 2016
Running Time 6 minutes
10

Still Devout

Director Melissa Perez
Production Year 2017
Synopsis

Directed by Melissa Perez, Still Devout follows vacillating 23-year-old Ceci, who reluctantly embarks on a journey to grant her mother’s wish—to find healing for Ceci’s brother suffering with severe mental illness. After Ceci’s brother has a severe psychotic episode, Ceci is hoping to gain peace in the family. A trip driven by faith, love and desperation complicates as the family’s values and identities clash.


Film Details

Director Melissa Perez
Country United States
Genre Short Drama
Writer Melissa Perez
Producer Gabriela Gonzalez
Production Year 2017
Running Time 20 minutes
11

The Town I Live In

Production Year 2017
Synopsis

The artist Guadalupe Rosales wanted to resist the erasure of history, so she created a monumental archive of Los Angeles youth culture called Veteranas and Rucas on instagram. But when anti-gentrification activists in her Los Angeles neighborhood Boyle Heights begin protesting art galleries, Rosales gets caught in the middle of a heated conflict.


Film Details

Director Guadalupe Rosales Matt Wolf
Country United States
Genre Short Documentary
Producer Brendan Doyle
Production Year 2017
Running Time 10 minutes