Cannes may have the glittering galas, Sundance the snowy mountains, and Toronto more movie stars than you can handle, but we have to admit we have a soft spot for Los Cabos International Film Festival. For starters, we’re fans of being able to hit the beach after catching premieres from up-and-coming Mexican filmmakers. Add in an impeccable lineup of Mexican and Latin American premieres of well-received prestige fare and throw in the organizers’ commitment to nurturing a truly transnational networking film industry, and you can see why we’re excited to fly down for another edition of the ever-growing festival. This year Los Cabos is yet again boasting some impressive galas which include films featuring Emma Stone, Steve Carrell, Natalie Morales, Jessica Chastain, Willem Defoe, Kristen Wiig, Frances McDormand, and Casey Affleck, among others.

As usual, though, we’ll be keeping an eye on the Mexican projects that could use the fest’s boost. That’s why, while we’ll definitely be checking out a certain sci-fi romance set in Baja starring Club de Cuervos’ Luis Gerardo Mendez where he plays an alien, we’re gonna be following closely the many films in the México Primero lineup which include docs on Cardenche singing, family dramas about dealing with trauma in Tijuana, and even a Willem Defoe flick. We’ve rounded out the fest highlights of Latino and Latin American films below. Take a look!

Los Cabos International Film Festival runs November 8 – 12, 2017.

The Florida Project

Director Sean Baker
Production Year 2017
The-Florida-Project 01
'The Florida Project' courtesy of NYFF
Synopsis

A six-year-old girl (the remarkable Brooklynn Prince) and her two best friends (played by newcomers Valeria Cotto and Christopher Rivera) run wild on the grounds of a week-by-week motel complex on the edge of Orlando’s Disney World. Meanwhile, her mother (talented novice Bria Vinaite) desperately tries to cajole the motel manager (an ever-surprising Willem Dafoe) to turn a blind eye to the way she pays the rent. A film about but not for kids, Baker’s depiction of childhood on the margins has fierce energy, tenderness, and great beauty. After the ingenuity of his iPhone-shot 2015 breakout Tangerine, Baker reasserts his commitment to 35mm film with sun-blasted images that evoke a young girl’s vision of adventure and endurance beyond heartbreak.


Film Details

Director Sean Baker
Country United States
Genre Drama
Writer Sean Baker Chris Bergoch
Producer Chris Bergoch Kevin Chinoy Andrew Duncan Alex Saks Francesca Silvestri Sean Baker Shih-Ching Tsou
Production Year 2017
Running Time 115 minutes

Camino a Marte

Country Mexico
Production Year 2017
Camino a Marte 01
'Camino a Marte' Courtesy of Videocine
Synopsis

Emilia escapes from a hospital to travel through Baja California with her friend Violeta. On their way, they will meet a man claiming to have come from another planet in order to destroy humanity. The friends think he is crazy, but something makes them slowly start to believe him.


Film Details

Director Humberto Hinojosa Ozcariz
Country Mexico
Genre Science Fiction Romance Comedy
Writer Anton Goenechea Humberto Hinojosa Ozcariz
Producer Pablo Garcia Gatterer
Production Year 2017
Running Time 93 minutes

Ayer maravilla fui

Country Mexico
Production Year 2017
ayer_maravilla_fui
'Ayer maravilla fui' still courtesy of Los Cabos International Film Festival
Synopsis

A being runs through Mexico City, taking hold of different bodies to get to Luisa, a young woman they’ve fallen in love with. These shapeshifting encounters remind us that you may yet find a deep connection with someone else, even in cities where you can be lonely while surrounded by millions of others. Gabriela Mariño’s sci-fi tinged drama, shot in black and white, offers a riff on what modern-day romance can be all about.

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details

Director Gabriel Mariño
Country Mexico
Genre Science Fiction Romance
Writer Gabriela Mariño
Producer Gabriela Gavica Isaac Montecillo
Production Year 2017
Running Time 90 minutes

A morir a los desiertos

Director Marta Ferrer
Country Mexico
Production Year 2017
morir a los desiertos
'A morir a los desiertos' Courtesy of Los Cabos International Film Festival
Synopsis

Cardenche singing, born within the backdrop akin to slavery of the cotton laborers of Durango in the 19th century, is a tradition hanging on by a thread. To Die in the Desert is a close look at this music and the men which keep it alive.


Film Details
To Die in the Desert
Director Marta Ferrer
Country Mexico
Genre Documentary
Producer Alejandro Durán Sebastián Celis Nicolás Celis
Production Year 2017
Running Time 75 minutes

Los días más oscuros de nosotras

Country Mexico
Production Year 2017
Los dias mas oscuros de nosotras
'Los días más oscuros de nosotroas' Courtesy of Los Cabos International Film Festival
Synopsis

Ana has a vague memory of her sister’s death near their family home in Tijuana. When she returns for work, her encounter with Silvia, the tenant who now lives in the house and wants to buy it, forces Ana to confront the violent events of her past.


Film Details

Director Astrid Rondero
Country Mexico
Genre Drama
Writer Lila Nieto Astrid Rondero
Producer Fernanda Valadez
Production Year 2017
Running Time 97 minutes

Mis demonios nunca juraron soledad

Director Jorge Leyva
Country Mexico
Production Year 2017
MisDemonios_preview
'Mis demonios nunca juraron soledad' Courtesy of Los Cabos International Film Festival
Synopsis

A violent and alcoholic gold prospector lives with his wife near the border. She is convinced that a demon is stalking them, and he thinks his wife is cheating on him. Blinded by jealousy, he decides to seek both his wife’s lover and the demon to strike them down.


Film Details

Director Jorge Leyva
Country Mexico
Genre Thriller
Writer Jorge Leyva
Producer Lilia Velazco
Production Year 2017
Running Time 90 minutes

Opus zero

Director Daniel Graham
Production Year 2017
OpusZero_Still
'Opus Zero' Courtesy of Los Cabos International Film Festival
Synopsis

Paul, an American composer, and Daniel, a Mexican documentary filmmaker meet in Real de Catorce. Their encounter makes them face supernatural phenomena which seem to unearth a past buried in the desolation of the desert.


Film Details

Director Daniel Graham
Country United Kingdom Germany Mexico
Genre Drama
Writer Daniel Graham
Producer Julio Chavezmontes
Production Year 2017
Running Time 90 minutes

Give Me Future

Director Austin Peters
Production Year 2016
Give Me Future 02
Still from 'Give Me Future: Major Lazer in Cuba'
Synopsis

2015 was a landmark year for electronic dancehall superband Major Lazer. After topping the EDM charts with their international hit single “Lean On,” the band continued its world tour, mounting elaborate shows not only in traditional destinations, but also in more challenging locations around the globe. Fueled by a dream of “making the world smaller by making the party bigger,” the group furthered their mission of peace through music with a free concert in the unlikeliest of venues — downtown Havana, Cuba, where no American band at the height of their fame had previously been allowed to perform. Without knowing whether anyone in the country even knew who they were, they hoped to reach a potential crowd of 50,000. After half a million exuberant fans showed up, music history was made on a massive scale. In what began as a concert film intended to document this groundbreaking event, director Austin Peters turns the camera on a burgeoning youth movement, fusing exhilarating performance footage with authentic stories of cultural and political shifts in a country on the precipice of change.


Film Details

Director Austin Peters
Country Cuba United States
Genre Documentary
Producer Jack Turner Jay Peterson
Production Year 2016
Running Time 85 minutes

Dina

Production Year 2016
Dina Sundance
'Dina'
Synopsis

The directors of Mala Mala are back with their sophomore documentary effort. Dina, an outspoken and eccentric 49-year-old in suburban Philadelphia, invites her fiancé Scott, a Walmart door greeter, to move in with her. Having grown up neurologically diverse in a world blind to the value of their experience, the two are head-over-heels for one another, but shacking up poses a new challenge. Scott freezes when it comes to physical intimacy, and Dina, a Kardashians fanatic, wants nothing more than to share with Scott all she’s learned about sensual desire from books, TV shows, and her previous marriage. Her increasingly creative forays to draw Scott close keep hitting roadblocks—exposing anxieties, insecurities, and communication snafus while they strive to reconcile their conflicting approaches to romance and intimacy.


Film Details

Director Antonio Santini Dan Sickles
Country United States
Genre Documentary
Producer Antonio Santini Dan Sickles
Production Year 2016
Running Time 101 minutes

El Ángel en el Reloj

Country Mexico
Production Year 2014
Synopsis

Amelia goes to sleep angry. She doesn’t want to take her medication, and she misses her long hair. Then, she is visited by the angel Malachi, who takes her to a fantasy universe where time stops. Thus begin her adventures to defeat No-Time and return home.


Film Details
The Angel in the Clock
Director Miguel Angel Uriegas
Country Mexico
Genre Animation
Writer Rosana Curiel Miguel Ángel Uriegas
Production Year 2014
Running Time 91 minutes

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

The Battle of the Sexes

Production Year 2017
BATTLE OF THE SEXES
Natalie Morales, Ashley Weingold, Bridey Elliott, Martha MacIsaac, Emma Stone and Mickey Summer in the film BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon. Courtesy of Fox Searchlight
BATTLE OF THE SEXES
Natalie Morales, Martha MacIsaac, Mickey Summer, Bridey Elliott, Kaitlyn Christian, Fidan Manashirova, Lauren Kline, Ashley Weingold and Emma Stone in the film BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon. Courtesy of Fox Searchlight
BATTLE OF THE SEXES
Wallace Langham, Alan Cumming, Sarah Silverman, Martha MacIsaac, Bridey Elliott, Ashley Weingold, Natalie Morales and Emma Stone in the film BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon. Courtesy of Fox Searchlight
Synopsis

Following the now infamous 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Billy Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), this touching tale of groundbreaking feminist history also plunges us deep into the personal stories behind those two sports titans. And yes, that means showing King struggling with her own sexuality while wanting to fight openly for equal pay. Beyond Stone and Carrell, this playful film is stacked with A-list talent, including Sarah Silverman, Fred Armisen, Bill Pullman, and even Natalie Morales as Salvadoran Grand Slam champion Rosie Casals.

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details

Director Jonathan Dayton Valerie Faris
Country United States
Genre Sports Biopic Drama
Writer Simon Beaufoy
Producer Danny Boyle Christian Colson Robert Graf
Production Year 2017
Running Time 121 minutes