Best Movies at New York International Latino Film Festival

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This July, the 11th annual New York International Latino Film Festival will roll out in New York City. Ever since its storied beginnings, the festival has become a Mecca of sorts for lovers of movies from the Spanish-speaking world. For those who are waiting to see only the very best, don’t fret, we’re giving you a plethora of options. In short, these are the best movies at the New York Latino Film Festival.  How did we come up with such a thing? Well, we have devised a complicated algorithm (i.e. I was chained to a rusty pipe in a forgotten corner of the office).

Anyway, these movies (or films for the goatee-sporting cineaste) range from the tortured legacy of Pablo Escobar, to a policewoman’s fight for justice in Ciudad Juarez, and a sexually confused Uruguayan man’s search for answers to his demons. These films span the entire spectrum, from small-scale drama, to action, and even comedy. So, go out, see these movies and have deep conversations about them at a coffee shop somewhere. And if you can’t make it out to NYC, then wait patiently to rent these flicks. They’re well worth it!


25 Carat (25 Kilates), 2009, Spain, Dir. Patxi Amezcua

Based in Madrid, Abel has fallen on hard times. Once a proud boxer, he is now a lowly enforcer for a loan shark. He becomes infatuated with Kay, a fellow criminal. Both see each other as their way out of the gutter, but first, they’ll need to pull off one big last scam…


A Matter of Principles, 2009, Argentina, Dir. Rodrigo Grande

Rodrigo Grande’s latest work takes a look at a retiring port worker who continuously refuses to sell his prized issue of Tertulias to his equally dedicated new boss. As the title of the film suggests, there are just some things we have to live by. Talk about integrity.


Backyard (El Traspatio), 2009, Mexico, Dir. Carlos Carrera

From the director of El Crimen del Padre Amaro (The Crime of Padre Amaro), Backyard is a fictionalized take on the murders of women in Juarez. Ana de la Reguera (of Nacho Libre and topless Esquire cover fame) stars as Blanca Bravo, a police captain from the capital sent to investigate the murders. What she finds is not only death, but corruption and ineffectiveness from her own police force, not to mention indifference from the public.


Leo’s Room (El Cuarto de Leo), 2009 Argentina/Uruguay, Dir. Enrique Buchichio

Leo is a man who breaks up with his girlfriend and begins to seek male companionship on the web. Trouble is, he hasn’t bothered to tell people outside of cyber space. When the sexually-confused shut-in bumps into a classmate from long ago, this triggers events that affect both of their outlooks on life.


Sins of My Father (Pecados de mi Padre), 2009 Colombia, Dir. Nicolas Entel

More than a decade after Pablo Escobar’s death, his son must deal with the lingering pain and bitterness of his father’s victims. Juan Escobar remains loyal and loving toward his father, but the film is also about two victims of Escobar who continue to deal with the aftermath of violence. The highlight is when Escobar meets with the victims themselves. It is a film as much about perception, memory, and love as it is about violence.


Habana Eva, 2009, Cuba, Dir. Fina Torres

A young seamstress longs for better days in Havana. Using Fidel Castro’s retirement as a backdrop, the young woman puts up with her lazy lover and dreams of becoming a fashion designer. By pure chance, she befriends a Cuban-American on vacation and acts as a guide. You can sense where this is heading, right? Anyway, her dilemma is a metaphor for Cuba’s future as well.


Pastor Shepherd, 2010, USA, Dir. Edwin Marshall

Well, what can we say? Starring none other than Danny Trejo as well as Pastor Shepherd, the plot goes like this: a struggling salesman dreams of becoming an evangelist and follows his dreams after his mentally retarded boss fires him.  Yup, that’s pretty much it. While not an epic, the movie has attracted some buzz, since nobody has seen Danny Trejo without maiming anybody, save for Anchorman. As for Pastor Shepherd, he is known for his arid comedy act as an internet evangelist.


Mandrill, 2009, Chile, Dir. Ernesto Diaz Espinoza

Mandrill is the best hitman in Chile. Entering the business after swearing revenge for his parents’ death, he finally gets his chance and corners him. Everything seems to be a foregone conclusion except for the appearance of the man’s seductive daughter.  Featuring over-the-top fights, gunplay, and a love of exploitation films of the ’70s, Mandrill will entertain and make people want to shoot guns with suits on.


Catch the 11th Annual New York International Latino Film Festival, starting July 27th through August 1st.