Every year directors, critics, and cinephiles from all over head to Sundance Film Festival. There’s good reason to brave the cold weather of Utah in January: as the largest independent film festival in the United States, Sundance never fails to deliver some of the most exciting indie projects around. There’s no better festival to attend to see what movies people will be talking about for the rest of the year. Just last year fest attendees got to see Antonio Campos’ Christine, Elizabeth Wood’s White GirlDiego Luna’s Mr. Pigrecent Cinema Tropical Award winner Bernardo Britto’s Jacqueline Argentine, as well as soon-to-be Best Picture Oscar nominee Manchester by the Sea. 

In between its usual fare of weepy family dramedies and socially conscious documentaries, Latino audiences have plenty to look forward to at this year’s edition of the fest. There are new projects featuring Salma Hayek and America Ferrera, new documentaries about Dolores Huerta and the Buena Vista Social Club, and even three short films screening under the “Made in Cuba” sidebar showcasing new work from the island. Not only that but this year’s juries include two of Latin America’s most beloved and successful actors: Neruda‘s Gael García Bernal will be serving on the U.S. Dramatic Jury while AquariusSonia Braga is part of the three-person World Cinema Dramatic Jury.

And while we know there’s no way you’ll be able to catch everything at the fest, we’ve rounded up our Top Latino picks below. We chose to include movies directed by US Latinos and Latin Americans as well as films about Latinos (but directed by non-Latinos).  Consider these recommendations of what you shouldn’t miss at Sundance, and for those not attending: as a running list of the films you should keep tabs on this year. Check them out below.

Sundance Film Festival takes place January 19-29, 2017 in Park City, Utah.

FEATURE FILMS

Beatriz at Dinner

Director Miguel Arteta
Production Year 2016
Beatriz at Dinner Salma 01
'Beatriz at Dinner' Film Still. Photo by: Lacey Terrell. Courtesy of Roadside Attractions.
Beatriz at Dinner 03
'Beatriz at Dinner' Film Still. Photo by: Lacey Terrell. Courtesy of Roadside Attractions.
Beatriz at Dinner Salma 02
'Beatriz at Dinner' Film Still. Photo by: Lacey Terrell. Courtesy of Roadside Attractions.
Synopsis

Beatriz (Salma Hayek) is a miracle worker—highly sensitive with her touch, and passionately dedicated to curing pain through holistic therapy. After treating the mother of a young woman Beatriz helped recover from chemotherapy, her car breaks down, so she is invited to stay for a dinner celebrating a lucrative business deal. An interloper inside this private enclave of the have-mores, Beatriz is politely acknowledged by the guests, with the exception of Doug, a mega brazen and successful business developer. Believing she knows him from somewhere, Beatriz becomes increasingly unsettled. Uninhibited, she questions whether Doug’s accomplishments have come at the expense of other people’s suffering—to the chagrin of the sycophantic hosts—pitting the guests into opposing forces. Beatriz at Dinner is riveting, yet with an apprehensive tone. Half chamber drama, half dark dramedy of errors, Puerto Rican director Miguel Arteta discerns his characters by showing their most telling reactions, such as the subliminal determination of Hayek’s face, while spinning an indelible wickedness onto this tale of a fateful encounter


Film Details

Director Miguel Arteta
Country United States
Genre Drama
Writer Mike White
Producer Aaron L. Gilbert David Hinojosa Pamela Koffler Christine Vachon
Production Year 2016
Running Time 83 minutes

500 Years

Director Pamela Yates
Production Year 2016
500 Years 01
'500 Years' Courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival
500 Years 02
'500 Years' Courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival Photo credit: Saul Martinez
Synopsis

The third film in a trilogy about Guatemala, this installment explores the sweeping historical significance of the war crimes trial of General Ríos Montt and the toppling of corrupt president Otto Pérez Molina. Pamela Yates gracefully engages the indigenous Mayan population who experienced genocide at the hands of a long-standing repressive government. Silenced family members and eyewitnesses come forward to share their individual stories with the desire that their underreported, horrific treatment receive the attention it deserves. Spoken in Spanish and native Mayan languages, 500 Years delicately weaves archival footage with new interviews and emotional courtroom scenes to shine light on a growing movement to fend off the systematic aggression toward an underrepresented people. Focusing on the recent events of a country that has suffered for generations at the hands of a ruling elite, the film hails the nation’s citizens banding together on a quest for justice – and emerging as a beacon of hope.


Film Details

Director Pamela Yates
Country United States
Genre Documentary
Producer Paco de Onis
Production Year 2016
Running Time 106 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

Carpinteros

Production Year 2016
carpinteros 17401-1-1100
'Carpinteros' film still.
carpinteros 17401-2-1100
'Carpinteros' film still.
carpinteros 17401-4-1100
'Carpinteros' film still.
Synopsis

Tall, dark, and handsome, Julián steps off a bus, hands over his clothes, gets his long curly locks chopped off, and becomes fresh meat walking inside the Najayo Prison in the Dominican Republic. He locates his cellblock underneath the moist corner where the Woodpeckers perch. Woodpeckers—prisoners who romance ladies incarcerated at the women’s prison 150 meters across the way—spend their days in affectionate conversation with their lovers through sign language. When Julián encounters Yanelly, a gorgeous spitfire of a woman, he finds love in the last place he imagined. Now he must find a way, through cement, barbed wire, dozens of guards, and murderous exes to win Yanelly’s love, all the while keeping it secret.


Film Details
Woodpeckers
Director Jose Maria Cabral
Country Dominican Republic
Genre Drama
Writer Jose Maria Cabral
Producer Jose Maria Cabral Maria Jose Ripoll
Production Year 2016
Running Time 107 minutes

Family Life

Country Chile
Production Year 2017
Synopsis

A young family temporarily relocates for the father’s professorship, and an estranged cousin is recruited to house-sit. Martin, the cousin, is a peculiar, brooding, scruffy man. Eager to go, the family dismisses any doubts they have and leave the house in Martin’s care. Left to his own devices, Martin listlessly chain-smokes and goes through Bruno’s personal things. When Martin wanders out, he encounters an attractive single mother. He brings her to the house where he poses as a divorcee who doesn’t get to see his daughter. They get hot and heavy, and soon Martin starts to play father figure to her son, turning their casual fling into domestic bliss, all while seemingly oblivious to the family’s imminent return. Family Life intrepidly weaves together the perspectives of a couple nobly navigating their family doldrums, and Martin, a drifter seizing a short-term lease on family life. Chile’s most original filmmakers, director Alicia Scherson and co-director Christián Jiménez, team up to knock out an unconventional and profound study of living vicariously in this aloof, melancholy comedy.


Film Details

Director Alicia Scherson Cristián Jiménez
Country Chile
Genre Drama
Writer Alejandro Zambra
Producer Carlos Olivares Fernando Bascuñán
Production Year 2017
Running Time 80 minutes

Sueño en otro idioma

Country Mexico
Production Year 2016
Synopsis

Martin arrives in a remote Mexican village to record a dying, ancient indigenous language. He finds the last two speakers of the language, but they refuse to speak to each other because of a 50 year grudge. Martin learns the surly Evaristo got into a fight with Isauro because they fell in love with the same woman. Now widowed, Evaristo continues to bitterly avoid the ailing Isauro. Martin and Evaristo’s granddaughter, Lluvia, work to convince the men to reconcile. Perplexed by their intensity when they meet, Martin realizes there is more to the story, and Lluvia finally reveals the secret behind the men’s entanglement. As Isauro’s health declines, Evaristo struggles to come to terms with his feelings, and strange bird calls from deep inside the jungle begin to stir, evoking the mythical origin of their ancestors. Distinctly enigmatic in tone, permeating the vibrations of the jungle’s enchantment through sound and cinematography, writer and director duo the Contreras brothers imaginatively use language and metaphor, and eternity over history to weave an unexpected and transcendental love story.


Film Details
I Dream in Another Language
Director Ernesto Contreras
Country Mexico
Genre Drama
Writer Carlos Contreras
Producer Luis Albores Érika Ávila Raymond van der Kaaij Dijana Olcay-Hot Eamon O'Farrill Mónica Lozano
Production Year 2016
Running Time 101 minutes

Dolores

Director Peter Bratt
Production Year 2017
Dolores Sundance 01
United Farm Workers leader Dolores Huerta organizing marchers on the 2nd day of March Coachella in Coachella, CA 1969. © 1976 George Ballis / Take Stock / The Image Works. Courtesy of PBS Distribution
Synopsis

History tells us Cesar Chavez transformed the U.S. labor movement by leading the first farm workers’ union. But missing from this narrative is his equally influential co-founder, Dolores Huerta, who fought tirelessly alongside Chavez for racial and labor justice and became one of the most defiant feminists of the twentieth century. Like so many powerful women advocates, Dolores and her sweeping reforms were—and still are—sidelined and diminished. Even as she empowered a generation of immigrants to stand up for their rights, her relentless work ethic was constantly under attack. Peter Bratt’s provocative and energizing documentary challenges an incomplete history. Through beautifully woven archival footage and interviews from contemporaries and from Dolores herself, now an octogenarian, the film sets the record straight on one of the most effective and undervalued civil and labor rights leaders in modern U.S. history.


Film Details

Director Peter Bratt
Country United States
Genre Documentary
Producer Brian Benson
Production Year 2017
Running Time 95 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

Não Devore Meu Coração!

Production Year 2017
Don't Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl! - Film Still 8
Cauã Reymond appears in Don't Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl! by Felipe Bragança, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition program at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Glauco Firpo.
Don't Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl! - Film Still 7
Eduardo Macedo appears in Don't Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl! by Felipe Bragança, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition program at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Glauco Firpo.
Don't Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl! - Film Still 6
Adeli Gonzales appears in Don't Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl! by Felipe Bragança, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition program at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Glauco Firpo.
Don't Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl! - Film Still 5
A film still from Don't Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl! by Felipe Bragança, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition program at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Glauco Firpo.
Synopsis

On the turbulent border of modern-day Brazil and Paraguay, a war is brewing between rival gangs on either side. Caught in the middle of it all, Brazilian 13-year-old Joca has fallen in love with Basano, a spirited indigenous Paraguayan girl, and is determined to win her over regardless of the consequences. Even as Joca’s brother Fernando becomes heavily embroiled in the hostilities, and Basano is threatened by the unwanted affections of an older boy in her village, Joca is forced to confront where his own loyalties lie. Felipe Bragança’s first solo-directed feature is a magnificently layered, surreal fairy tale addressing the very real colonial oppression and strife that defined the region’s history and still lingers today. Mixing professional and nonprofessional actors in three languages, Don’t Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl! tackles its ambitions head-on, shaping Bragança’s alluring vision of a dreamscape haunted by violence where young love struggles to take root.


Film Details
Don't Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl!
Director Felipe Bragança
Country Netherlands Paraguay France Brazil
Genre Drama
Writer Felipe Bragança
Producer Marina Meliande Marcos Prado
Production Year 2017
Running Time 108 minutes

Lemon

Director Janicza Bravo
Production Year 2017
Synopsis

Isaac Lachmann (Brett Gelman) has seen better days. His acting career is tanking, while his colleagues succeed; his blind girlfriend of 10 years plans to leave him; and his own family singles him out as a constant disappointment at their latest reunion. Even as he takes a chance on new romance, Isaac struggles to define his place in a world that has seemingly turned against him. Janicza Bravo, who was raised in a military base in Panama, directs this description-defying debut feature that promises to delight and unsettle audiences in equal measure with its unique brand of discomforting humor. Co-starring Michael Cera, Judy Greer, Nia Long, Martin Starr, and Gillian Jacobs.


Film Details

Director Janicza Bravo
Country United States
Genre Comedy Drama
Writer Janicza Bravo Brett Gelman
Producer Paul Bernon Sam Slater David Bernon Han West Houston King
Production Year 2017
Running Time 90 minutes

Untitled Buena Vista Social Club Documentary

Director Lucy Walker
Production Year 2017
Buena Vista Social Club Sundance Doc
Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival
Synopsis

In 1996, Cuban bandleader Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, British producer Nick Gold, and American guitarist Ry Cooder convened in Havana to produce a Cuban-Malian collaboration. When the Malians couldn’t get visas, the team turned their attention to reviving a forgotten generation of legendary son cubano musicians—among them Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez, Omara Portuondo, Eliades Ochoa, and Compay Segundo—and they formed a serendipitous, on-the-fly ensemble: the Buena Vista Social Club. The group’s hypnotic, irresistible music and effusive spirit unexpectedly took the world by storm, resulting in a Grammy Award–winning album and an Academy Award–nominated documentary by Wim Wenders. Two decades since that fateful first session, we catch up to these master musicians, as they reflect on the magical unfolding of their lives—from humble origins to the evolution and surprising revival of their careers, all against the backdrop of Cuba’s dramatic history. Brimming with unseen concert, rehearsal, and archival footage, this film is an emotional, shimmering celebration of music’s power to transcend age, ideologies, and class, and to connect us to each other through our souls.


Film Details

Director Lucy Walker
Country United Kingdom Cuba United States
Producer Christine Cowin Zak Kilberg Victor Moyers Julian Cautherley Asher Goldstein
Production Year 2017
Running Time 110 minutes

XX

Production Year 2016
Synopsis

Gather round if you dare for four murderous tales of supernatural frights, predatory thrills, profound anxiety, and Gothic decay in the first all-female-driven horror anthology film. Audacious new works from some of the genre’s most promising voices—Annie Clark (better known to fans as St. Vincent), Karyn Kusama (The Invitation, Girlfight), Roxanne Benjamin (Southbound), and Jovanka Vuckovic (former editor of Rue Morgue magazine)—bring forth a study in the proper unspooling of dread for your viewing pleasure. Framed around innovative animator from Guadalajara Sofia Carrillo’s haunting tableaus, these modern myths range from Vuckovic’s reverent control of grotesque elegance to Clark’s deliciously macabre sense of comic timing, Benjamin’s skillful powers of tonal transformation, and Kusama’s authorial grasp of simmering psychological fear. Vigorously challenging a stagnant status quo within the industry, this collection of tightly coiled short films by some of horror’s most influential women offers a refreshing jolt to the senses.


Film Details

SHORT FILMS

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

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

Deer Squad: The Movie

Production Year 2016
Synopsis

Kelvin Peña, a charismatic 17-year-old from rural Pennsylvania, shares his story of going viral after befriending a group of wild deer in his backyard.


Film Details

Director Pipus Larsen Kenneth Gug Scott J. Ross
Country United States
Genre Short Film Documentary
Producer Scott J. Ross Super Deluxe
Production Year 2016
Running Time 4 minutes

Y todo el cielo cupo en el ojo de la vaca muerta

Production Year 2016
Synopsis

Emeteria is visited by the ghost of her patrón, Teodoro. She believes he has come to take her to the afterlife—but he has more devastating news.


Film Details
And The Whole Sky Fit In The Dead Cow's Eye
Director Francisca Alegría
Country Chile United States
Genre Short Film Drama
Writer Francisca Alegría
Producer Birgit Gernboeck Florencia Larrea Augusto Matte
Production Year 2016
Running Time 19 minutes

Kaiju Bunraku

Production Year 2016
Synopsis

Mixing the Japanese Kaiju (aka giant monsters) and Bunraku (traditional puppetry) genres, Miami-based filmmakers Leyva and Mayer have created an absurdist tale of existential nihilism that they describe as follows: “Here’s a day in the life of a husband and wife living in a world of giant monsters.”

Manuel Betancourt

Film Details

Director Lucas Leyva Jillian Mayer
Country United States
Genre Fantasy Short Film Drama
Writer Lucas Leyva
Producer Brett Potter Taylor Shung
Production Year 2016
Running Time 14 minutes

Good Crazy

Director Rosa Salazar
Production Year 2016
Synopsis

A complex chick deals with a vanilla beau, a shitty brunch, and a dead coyote all in a Los Angeles day. There’s batshit crazy and then there’s good crazy—she fits somewhere in between.


Film Details

Director Rosa Salazar
Country United States
Writer Rosa Salazar
Producer Toby Louie
Production Year 2016
Running Time 14 minutes

Gente-fied

Director Marvin Lemus
Production Year 2016
Gentefied 01
'Gente-fied' still courtesy of MACRO
Gentefied 04
'Gente-fied' Courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival
Gente-fied Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 10.58.35 AM
'Gente-fied' still courtesy of MACRO
Gente-fied Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 10.58.20 AM
'Gente-fied' still courtesy of MACRO
Gentefied 03
'Gente-fied' Courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival
Gentefied 02
'Gente-fied' Courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival
Synopsis

Gente/“People” + Gentrification = Gente-fication. Directed by Mexican-Guatemalan-American Marvin Lemus, Gente-fied is a web series executive produced by and starring America Ferrera. Bicultural millennials and old-school pillars of the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles hustle to maintain their cultural identity when faced with an influx of outsiders to their traditionally Latino community. Each episode of this comedic drama focuses on a different character as they survey the complications and benefits of modern gentrification.


Film Details

Director Marvin Lemus
Country United States
Genre Comedy Drama
Writer Marvin Lemus Linda Yvette Chavez
Producer Charles D. King Aaliyah Williams America Ferrera
Production Year 2016
Running Time 35 minutes

Casa en venta

Country Cuba
Production Year 2016
Synopsis

After over 50 years, the ban disallowing citizens of Cuba from selling their own houses is lifted. Three Cuban families invite us into their homes as a showcase to prospective buyers. Filled with memories, souvenirs, and family members, these intimate spaces are filled with affection, highlighting a country on the verge of historical change.


Film Details
House for Sale
Director Emanuel Giraldo Betancur
Country Cuba
Genre Short Film Documentary
Producer Emanuel Giraldo Betancur
Production Year 2016
Running Time 13 minutes

Great Muy Bien

Country Cuba
Production Year 2016
Synopsis

After the United States restored diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015, it was no longer unrealistic for Cubans to dream of one day living and working abroad. Citizens of all ages, with diverse aspirations, enroll at the makeshift Big Ben English school in Havana in order to prepare themselves for a future of normalized relations between Cuba and the United States.


Film Details

Director Sheyla Pool Pástor
Country Cuba
Genre Short Documentary
Writer Sheyla Pool Pástor
Producer Sheyla Pool Pástor Zoe Garcia Miranda
Production Year 2016
Running Time 16 minutes

Conectifai

Country Cuba
Production Year 2016
Synopsis

In 2016, Cuba’s only telephone company installed Wi-Fi routers in 18 public parks. For many in the country, this meant being able to go online for the first time. Now connected to a technology that is entirely new to them, we see how Cubans explore social media, online dating, and the ability to reconnect with family members living just 90 miles away.


Film Details
Connection
Director Zoe Garcia Miranda
Country Cuba
Genre Short Film Documentary
Writer Zoe Garcia Miranda
Producer Sheyla Pool Zoe Garcia Miranda
Production Year 2016
Running Time 18 minutes