These Are the Must-See Movies at the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival

Lead Photo: Photos in Ghana for Rene recording, in a village near Tamale. Photo: Ruben Salgado Escudero
Photos in Ghana for Rene recording, in a village near Tamale. Photo: Ruben Salgado Escudero
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Returning to the city of brotherly (and sisterly!) love, the sixth edition of the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival (PHLAFF) is here to bring you some of the most talked about Latino films out there. From music docs to LGBTQ flicks, there’s no shortage of thrilling work that gives a snapshot of contemporary Latin America. “This year, the festival’s lineup reflects the realities, challenges, and strengths of our people with the goal to facilitate dialogue on issues impacting the quality of life in our communities,” said festival director Marángeli Mejía-Rabell. “Issues such as the current crises in Puerto Rico and Venezuela and of course, immigration and social inclusion, are all on the list.”

At the top of your “must-watch” list should be Cecilia Aldarondo’s family doc Memories of a Penitent Heart. Knowing his uncle died in New York in the 80s after being estranged from his family in Puerto Rico, Aldarondo sets out to find out all she can about her uncle, a journey that forces her to confront issues of LGBT discrimination within devout communities during the AIDS crisis. Like a photo album come to life (with plenty of teary-eyed moments to spare), Memories is the kind of doc you don’t often get to see in Latino fests.

Tackling another taboo subject is Tamara. Elia Schneider’s film follows the first trans woman elected to Congress in Venezuela. Based on a true story and featuring a fearless performance by Luis Fernández, this biopic shows the limits of tolerance once Teo decides to live his truth as Tamara. And closing the film is Residente. The globetrotting documentary follows the famed Puerto Rican musician of Calle 13 fame as he travels to Siberia, Georgia, China, Burkina Faso and Ghana searching for his roots, finding musical inspiration along the way. The behind the scenes look at his latest album doubles as a personal journey into the multicultural world we all belong to.

In addition, you’ll be able to catch films about sex tourism in Buenos Aires (Monger), Honduras’ deadliest region (Olancho), and Puerto Rico’s current economic crisis (Defend Puerto Rico), so get your tickets while you can!

The Philadelphia Latino Film Festival (PHLAFF) runs June 2 – 4, 2017