Latin American filmmakers are riding on Cloud 9 this week. Guillermo del Toro just won two Academy Awards for directing and producing The Shape of Water, marking the fourth time in the last five years that the Best Director statue was awarded to a Mexican-born filmmaker. Hopefully, the trend continues in 2018 and extends across all film industry events.

At the South by Southwest Film Festival, Latin American directors are being represented fairly well and looking to be recognized during the fest March 9-17. Films from countries like Nicaragua, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia are making their world and U.S. premieres across a variety of genres, including documentary, comedy, animation and drama.

Work, however, still needs to be done for U.S.-born Latino filmmakers, especially in a week where we saw the deadline to fix the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program come and go. It’s important now more than ever to show people that Latino voices in the U.S. are a vital part of the American fabric—whether it’s in the business sector, media field or entertainment industry.

Demanding more inclusion at film festivals like SXSW is one way U.S. Latinos can push for change and put more pressure on the Hollywood system to make some inherent shifts in the way talent is hired and projects are greenlit.

If you’re in Austin, Texas, for SXSW, remember to give some love to those Latino filmmakers who are fighting for a place at the table. Below are a handful of films to get you started. We chose to include movies by Latino and non-Latino directors, but always focusing on Latino stories.

SXSW Film Festival runs March 9–17, 2018. 

1

Nossa Chape

Production Year 2018
nossa-chape-123002
Courtesy of SXSW
Synopsis

Imagine being a part of a sports club during a tragic accident that sees most of your teammates killed in a deadly airplane crash. This is the situation the Brazilian Chapesoense football team finds itself in when it loses all but three of its players in a serious accident on November 28, 2016. Hoping to show how an entire city handles immense tragedy, directors point their cameras on the families of the deceased, the three men who survived the crash and new members who have stepped in to fill the roster spots on the team. Should the new team move on or are the memories connected to their deceased teammates too significant to put by the wayside?

Kiko Martinez

Film Details

Director Julian Duque Michael Zimbalist Jeff Zimbalist
Country Colombia Spain Brazil
Genre Documentary
Writer Jeff Zimbalist Michael Zimbalist
Producer Colby Gottert
Production Year 2018
Running Time 101 minutes
2

Ruben Blades Is Not My Name

Director Abner Benaim
Production Year 2018
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
3

Agave: The Spirit of a Nation

Production Year 2018
Synopsis

Keeping their longstanding traditions alive by distilling agave in Mexico, generations of families have many reasons they continue to carry on the legacy of transforming the plant into a “sacred spirit.” From the bio-diverse landscapes of Jalisco to Oaxaca, the film follows the journey of three rural agave producers as they work from pure ambition to protect a perennial that is used to create tequila and mezcal. The documentary, which delves into the relationship between the plant and its people and explores its rich cultural heritage and history, is narrated by actor Damián Alcázar (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian).

Kiko Martinez

Film Details

Director Nicholas Kovacic Matthew Riggieri
Country Mexico United States
Genre Documentary
Writer Chantal Martineau
Producer Matthew Riggieri Nicholas Kovacic Paola Villanueva Bidault
Production Year 2018
Running Time 79 minutes
4

Virus Tropical

Country Colombia
Production Year 2017
Virus Tropical AFICHE 01
'Virus Tropical' still courtesy of Animation is Film Festival
AFICHE 02
'Virus Tropical' still courtesy of Animation is Film Festival
Synopsis

Adapted from a graphic novel memoir by Colombian-Ecuadorian cartoonist Paola Gaviria (aka Power Paola), the black and white, Spanish-language animated film features Paola (voiced by María Cecilia Sánchez), an exceptional and independent young girl who grew up between Ecuador and Colombia and is trying to find her place in the world. But growing up in a traditional Colombian family with an estranged priest as a father, a psychic as a mother and two older sisters, gives Paola a unique perspective on life, which shapes her personality. It is reported that this coming-of-age, adult-themed animation contains approximately 5,000 individual drawings created by Gaviria.

Kiko Martinez

Film Details

Director Santiago Caicedo
Country Colombia
Genre Animation
Writer Enrique Lozano
Producer Carolina Barrera Quevedo
Production Year 2017
Running Time 97 minutes
5

A Tuba To Cuba

Production Year 2017
a-tuba-to-cuba-113168
Courtesy of SXSW
Synopsis

Take a tour through Cuba with filmmakers T.G Herrington and Danny Clinch as they uncover the musical roots of Ben Jaffe, a New Orleans jazz band leader and tuba player and attempt to discover how he is connected the country’s indigenous music, which gave birth to the music he now knows and loves. The trip came after President Obama lifted restrictions on the communist country, which included travel. Making their way through Cuba, the crew meets up with iconic musicians. According to Jaffe, the trip inspired him so much, he and his New Orleans jazz group recorded a new album based on their experience.

Kiko Martinez

Film Details

Director T.G Herrington Danny Clinch
Country Cuba United States
Genre Documentary
Writer T.G Herrington
Producer Nicelle Herrington Han Soto
Production Year 2017
Running Time 83 minutes
6

Teatro de guerra

Director Lola Arias
Production Year 2018
theatre-of-war-125385
Courtesy of SXSW
Synopsis

Six veterans from the Falklands War, a war that lasted 74 days in 1982, reunite to tell their stories, reminisce about old memories and make a film about their experience fighting in a battle that saw more than 900 British and Argentinian soldiers die. In the experimental documentary, three British and three Argentine vets come together to reenact stylized battle scenes from the war from inside an abandoned building and to think about the repercussions that are felt by the men 35 years later and the cultural impact it left on both countries, which includes a number of film and television productions.

Kiko Martinez

Film Details
Theatre of War
Director Lola Arias
Country Germany Spain Argentina
Genre Experimental Documentary
Writer Lola Arias
Producer Alejandra Grinschpun Gema Juarez Allen
Production Year 2018
Running Time 73 minutes
7

Las Sandinistas

Director Jenny Murray
Production Year 2018
las-sandinistas-123649
'Las Sandinistas' still courtesy of SXSW
Synopsis

After stepping into battle during the 1979 Sandinistas Revolution in Nicaragua and leading combat and social reform to reshape their country, a group of female rebel troops returns to their home country almost 40 years later to help transform their society’s idea of feminism and to face gender violence and their own government head on. Through these untold true stories, director Jenny Murry explores the work of the democratic socialist political party and how they were able to seize power over the Somoza dynasty and expose their revolutionary government’s suppression of women’s rights. With a strong voice, these women refuse for their history to be forgotten.

Kiko Martinez

Film Details

Director Jenny Murray
Country Nicaragua United States
Production Year 2018
Running Time 97 minutes
8

Neurotic Quest for Serenity

Country Brazil
Production Year 2017
Neurotic Quest for Serenity
'Neurotic Quest for Serenity' film still courtesy of SXSW
Synopsis

Comedy actress and fake author Kika K (Tatá Werneck) is looking for happiness but doesn’t seem to have luck on her side. Sure, she’s famous and beautiful, has millions of adoring fans, and is about to star in a new soap opera, but she’s also suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder and trying to keep a lie from spreading too quickly. When her manager surprises Kika by telling her that she has written book, something she has actually not done, she must pretend the book is hers even after the real author begins to send her mysterious messages that plunge her into an existential crisis.

Kiko Martinez

Film Details

Director Paulinho Caruso Teodoro Poppovic
Country Brazil
Writer Paulinho Caruso Teodoro Poppovic
Producer Bianca Villar Fernando Fraiha Karen Castanho
Production Year 2017
Running Time 105 minutes
9

Operation Odessa

Production Year 2017
operation odessa image-w1280
Courtesy of SXSW
Synopsis

From the director and producers of The Seven Five comes Operation Odessa, a true crime thriller about a Russian mobster, a Miami playboy, and a Cuban spy who teamed up to sell a nuclear submarine to a Colombian drug cartel. A gangster epic that hopscotches from Brooklyn to Miami and Cali to Moscow, the documentary tells the story of three friends who set out to hustle the Russian mob, the Cali cartel, and the DEA for the score of a lifetime.


Film Details

Director Tiller Russell
Country Israel South Africa Russia Spain United States
Genre Documentary
Producer Eli Holzman Aaron Saidman Sheldon Yellen
Production Year 2017
Running Time 95 minutes