From Maradona to Gael García Bernal: What to Watch at AFI’s Latin American Film Festival

Lead Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
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With the film festival season still going strong and with the Oscars already culling their shortlists, there’s a lot to look out for this time of year. One that you shouldn’t miss out on is the American Film Institute Latin American Film Festival, which takes place September 12 to October 2 in Silver Spring, Maryland. The festival will screen 53 films showcasing a dazzling spectrum of voices from 23 countries to illustrate the beauty of Latin American (Spanish and Portuguese, as well) cinema.

Opening the festival is the U.S. premiere of the Argentine feature An Unexpected Love. Directed by Juan Vera and starring Ricardo Darín and Mercedes Morán, the romantic comedy follows a couple that decides to split after 25 years of marriage. No doubt all manner of questions, both humorous and complex, will be discovered after they separate. Actor Gael García Bernal’s second directorial effort, Chicuarotes, about a group of Mexico City teens navigating life, will also be showcased.

Documentary selections look to be a fantastic mix of the personal and political starting with Asif Kapadia’s Diego Maradona, about the tempestuous soccer player. Using 500 hours of footage Kapadia’s feature will debut on HBO after its festival run has concluded. After a successful debut at Cannes, Juan Solanas’ Let It Be Law will also play at the festival, discussing Argentina’s increasingly powerful pro-choice movement. And Cristina Ibarra’s and Alex Rivera’s Dreamers-based feature The Infiltrators will also preview there. (Be sure to read our interview with the filmmakers before watching it.)

And be on the lookout for Melina León’s Song Without a Name about a woman whose newborn baby is stolen from a fake health clinic. León was the first Peruvian female director to have her feature screened at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. And the Colombian-Ecuadorean survivalist feature Monos from Alejandro Landes will also show at AFI’s festival.

All around it looks like an amazing group of titles with something for everyone. Be sure to support festivals like this if you can because they showcase features you won’t see anywhere else.

The AFI Latin American Film Festival runs September 12 to October 2. You can learn more at its official website

Editor’s Note, September 11, 2019 at 10:20 p.m.: This piece has been updated to accurately reflect the festival’s location.