This year’s Sundance Film Festival is a maze of films of all shapes and sizes and the choices are mind-boggling to say the least. But, as usual, we are here at your service! Even if you aren’t going to make it to the actual festival, it never hurts to know about new Latin films that will premiere here and then hit cineplexes around the country.

All of the films listed here were based on our collective opinion, which should be stated since we have not yet seen any of these films. But, we can make predictions as well as suggestions for the festival and these movies from Spain, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia certainly look the part and have garnered awards and buzz leading up to Sundance, which runs January 21st through the 31st.

Here is our list of the top 5 Latin films at the festival:

Abel
(Director: Diego Luna, Mexico, 2009)

A certain boy has a problem: he has gone off the deep end and when his mom brings him back from the psych ward, she tries not to disrupt his equilibrium. A weird thing happens and Abel becomes the man of the house so to speak as he assumes the role of his missing dad. This marks the 2nd directorial effort by Diego Luna, but his first feature film (the first one was the documentary Chavez, about the Mexican boxer). His command of acting needs no explaining; hopefully, his efforts here will add another reason for his awesomeness.

Sins of My Father
(Director: Nicholas Entel, Argentina, Colombia, U.S, U.K, 2009)

Sure, Latin American films can do less with the drug genre, with its associated images of guns, death and power, but Sins of My Father (Pecados de Mi Padre) takes a different look at a complex figure; Pablo Escobar. As the title suggests, this film focuses instead on the quest by the late drug lord’s son to come to terms with his father’s legacy as well as face head on, his father’s victims.  This film doesn’t need to show dead bodies to illustrate the horrors of drugs; just the innocent people caught in its wake.

Me Too
(Director: Alvaro Pastor, Spain, 2009)

Remember movies like I am Sam or Adam? Me Too possesses a similar plot; a young man with Down syndrome falls in love with a middle-aged lonely woman (Los Abrazos RotosLola Dueñas.)  Its plot line may be a bit mawkish, but some early reviews have praised the film for its powerful depiction between two kindred spirits. It has already become hugely popular in Spain, so a country of millions can’t be wrong. Besides, the film doesn’t paint a portrait of a man saddled with a disability, but a man who glides on, despite it. Plus, it’s done in a way that doesn’t pander to the audience.

The Man Next Door
(Director: Mariano Cohn, Gaston Duprat, Argentina, 2009)

What does a neighbor feud have to do with anything? If you’re an Argentinean film director, well, it obviously has to do with class tension, a sense of entitlement and wounded pride! But seriously, The Man Next Door (El Hombre de Al Lado) film takes a mundane aspect of life and draws larger conclusions from it in a way that reflects on the man. To make it even better, it leans toward comedy which makes the absurdity of it all even more pronounced.

Secrets of the Tribe
(Director: Jose Padilha, Brazil, 2009)

The director of Elite Squad and Bus 174 is back with another foray into the documentary field. This time, Padilha focuses on the story of an indigenous people who have been “exposed” to the modern world more than 40 years ago. The results have been controversial to say the least as Padilha juggles issues that lead to serious ethical dilemmas within the Anthropological community as well as allow the Yanomami Indians to tell their side of the story. The result is a film that asks if our pursuit of knowledge enhances our humanity or merely diminishes it in the process.

No trailer — yet!