As 2016 begins winding down, our eyes are already set on the year ahead. If you’re like us, you’re in desperate need of things to look forward to in 2017. Could we interest you in a bunch of great movies headed your way? How about a romantic comedy led by two queer women of color set in Chicago? Or maybe an environmentally conscious documentary on a self-sustainable cooperative in Mexico’s cloud forest? Or perhaps an Andes-set dystopian flick with a pregnant Quechua girl as its protagonist? Oh yes, if the Works in Progress lineup at the recent Los Cabos International Film Festival was anything to go by, 2017 is shaping up to have a wide-ranging roster of Latino and Latin American movies that all of us should be clamoring to catch in theaters soon.
The six features singled out below were all recipients of the Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund. Now in its third year, the fund was established as a way to honor of one of Mexico’s greatest Golden Age cinematographers and is focused on supporting projects in various stages of development. As you’ll see in the list below (which includes four female directors!), the films that fall under the GFFF banner are as eclectic and diverse as the many communities and stories they seek to tell. Believe us, you want to keep these on your radar. They’re all worth looking out for in a theater (or a film festival) near you.
Read the rest of our coverage of the Los Cabos International Film Festival here.
Additional reporting by Vanessa Erazo.
The Unseen (Los últimos)
Director: Nicolás Puenzo
Producers: Nicolás Puenzo, Luis Puenzo, Lucía Puenzo
In a nearby future, 24-year-old Pedro and 19-year old Yaku flee from a refugee camp in Bolivia’s Altiplano desert during a water and minerals war. Pedro and Yaku are keenly aware life is hopeless there and want to reach Iquique port in Chile, hoping to find Pedro’s estranged father and a better life. Their path crosses with Ruiz, a 50-year-old war-scarred photographer who had been given the order to use the couple for staging a dangerous media and military operation, but ultimately discovers in the couple’s endurance a will to live long ago forgotten to him.
Cloud Forest (Bosque de niebla)
Director: Mónica Álvarez
Producers: Carlos Sosa, Laura Imperiale
The people of a small community in Veracruz are the guardians of one of the ecosystems facing the most risk in the country: the cloud forest. They are trying to redesign their own culture: needs, food, education and relationship with other people and with nature, searching for a simpler and sustainable life. Zeroing in on the day-to-day in this self-sustainable co-op, Álvarez’s documentary ends up doubling as a keen examination of the potential to create new relationships with one another and with the land around us.
Director: Jennifer Reeder
Producers: Eugene Sun Park, Brian Hieggelke, Fawzia Mirza
Zaynab (played by writer-producer Fawzia Mirza) is a Pakistani-Muslim lawyer living in Chicago with her conservative mother who wishes her daughter would just find a man to marry. Instead, she falls for Alma, an out-and-proud Mexican woman whose mother once used to be a Lucha Libre wrestler. This detail bears pointing out because on top of keeping her relationship with Alma from her mother, Zaynab is also secretly learning professional-style wrestling, which turns out to be a really productive form of therapy for the oft-frazzled Chicago native. This indie rom-com charms for the way it feels both preciously specific and boldly universal. Oh, and also for the way it puts all these different women front and center. In fact, there’s only one male speaking role in the entire film!
The Darkest Days of Us (Los días más oscuros de nosotras)
Director: Astrid Rondero
Producer: Fernanda Valadez
Rondero’s feature film debut is a dark drama that centers on a woman whose return to her native Tijuana after 25 years reawakens painful memories she thought she’d left behind. Ana’s recollections of the day her sister died are foggy, but have haunted her since childhood. Now as the only woman working on a major construction project, she must face her own demons and those of the men that surround her.
The Goodbyes (Los adioses)
Director: Natalia Beristáin
Producers: Rafael Ley, María José Córdova, Gerardo Morán
In this warm, but sometimes fiery biopic of poet Rosario Castellanos, we see her go from introverted child, to curious college student, and ultimately one of the most important female authors in Mexican literature. Through flashbacks, we witness her tumultuous, decades-long love affair with Ricardo Guerra and see a more fragile side of the staunch feminist.
Outside of Prison (Tras la prisión)
Director: Pau Ortíz Rosell
Producers: Emiliano Altuna, Carlos Rossini, María Nova López
Countries: Mexico, Spain
A year ago, Rocío’s mom — an immigrant from Honduras — was arrested under false charges in Mexico. Now, Rocío, 13 and her brother, Alejandro, 18, will have to act as mother and father to their two younger siblings while they wait out their mom’s 10-year sentence in a country that isn’t welcoming to undocumented Central Americans. Without a proper visa, Alejandro struggles to find a steady job and often cracks under the pressure of acting as the family’s sole breadwinner. Meanwhile his sister, who’s stuck at home cooking and cleaning, longs for the freedoms of a normal teenager. Outside of prison is a documentary about having to grow up suddenly and the injustices immigrants face when living in a country that is not their own.