These Are the Must-See Movies at the Ecuadorian Film Festival in New York

Lead Photo: 'Mi Tía Toty' still. Courtesy of EFFNY17.
'Mi Tía Toty' still. Courtesy of EFFNY17.
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The Ecuadorian Film Festival in New York, now in its third edition, is the only one of its kind. Nowhere else in the world will you find an entire program dedicated entirely to the burgeoning Ecuadorian film industry. More thrillingly, the fest isn’t going to be solely catering to the Manhattan crowd. You’ll also be able to catch screenings in Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island, Westchester, and Rockland. So there’s no excuse not to check out this Latin American lineup.

Showcasing ten feature-length and eight short films in their U.S. or New York premiere, EFFNY17 will open with Mi tía Toty (My Aunt Toty). A look at the life of María Rosa “Toty” Rodríguez, the Ecuadorian actress who made her career in France in the 1960s, the doc is a family affair.  Part memoir and part family trip, it follows her return to Paris with her nephew in tow, to tell the story of how she became an icon in her native country and a figure for women’s rights movement. With plenty of behind the scenes footage and archival images of Toty at the peak of her glamour, My Aunt Toty is a love letter to this fearless woman and consummate performer.

Oscar trivia fiends will want to catch Sebastián Cordero’s Such Is Life in the Tropics (Sin muertos no hay carnaval), which was Ecuador’s submission to the Academy Awards last year. Set in Guayaquil, the thrilling flick pits a wealthy young man trying to evict 250 families that have been squatting on land he’s inherited from his family. The tense standoff, set against the lush greenery of the Ecuadorian countryside, crackles with timely social issues while packing one hell of a punch as things escalate to the point where it might all end in bloodshed.

Then, there’s Ana Cristina Barragán’s AlbaHaving won seventeen awards at various film festivals around the world (not too bad considering she directed it before she turned 30!), Barragán’s feature film debut follows a young girl heading into adolescence. When her mother is admitted to the hospital, Alba has to move in with her father, a man she barely knows. Shot with a keen eye for capturing that moment between wide-eyed innocence and teenage maturation, this urban coming of age tale is not one to be missed.

In addition, you can also catch a beach-set flick about a child photographer (Snapshot), a dramedy about growing weed (Ecuatorian Shetta), a poetic travelogue through Ecuador (Territorio), and plenty more. And with plenty of filmmakers hosting Q&As following the screenings, EFFNY17 is not one to be missed.

The 3rd Ecuadorian Film Festival in New York runs June 9-17, 2017