If you are like me (and every other Latino) you are sick of seeing movies where the people that look like us are only maids, janitors, undocumented immigrants or drug dealers. The Latino experience is so much more complex; it spans continents, languages, and cultures. This year’s Tribeca Film Festival is filled with films that offer diverse portraits of Latinos. There are stories about a Mexican-American folk singer from Detroit, a Latin Dance world champion who happens to be Ukrainian, an Argentinian professional poker player, a gringa who becomes an immigrant-smuggling coyote, Brazilian Xingu Indians and of course, the requisite Salma Hayek movie. Ticket prices aren’t cheap. (Do they have a minority scholarship?) So, here’s a list of the ones that look the most promising.
Searching for Sugar Man
Director: Malik Bendjelloul
2011 | 85 min | Feature Documentary | Country: Sweden, U.K.
New York Premiere
Director: Lucy Mulloy
2012 | 89 min | Feature Narrative | Country: Cuba, U.K., USA
North American Premiere
“Fed up with living in poverty while catering to a privileged tourist class, Cuban teens Raul and Elio are tantalized by the idea of fleeing the confines of their broken-down country for a new life in Miami. When Raul is accused of assaulting a foreigner, he has no choice but to escape, but Elio must decide whether his desire for freedom and helping Raul are worth abandoning his beloved twin sister, Lila. Brimming with the nervous energy of Havana’s restless youth and the evocative cinematography of the sun-bleached capital, Una Noche follows one sweltering day, full of hope and fraught with tension, that burns to a shocking climax.”
Director: Andreas Koefoed and Christian Bonke
2011 | 84 min | Feature Documentary | Country: Denmark
North American Premiere
“In 2000, Slavik Kryklyvyy became the World Latin Dance Champion with his partner and lover Joanna Leunis. Enduring success seemed assured, but instead Slavik’s career sputtered while Leunis went on to unrivaled glory with a replacement partner. A decade later Slavik has his sights set on a comeback. He has reteamed with a new partner—his girlfriend, amateur dance champion Anna Melnikova, and redemption seems within their grasp. But when it comes to making their relationship work both on and off the dance floor, will Slavik’s unwavering ambition prove to be his greatest asset, or his fatal flaw?”
Director: Macdara Vallely
2012 | 77 min | Feature Narrative | Country: Ireland, USA
“For as long as she can remember, Bronx teenager Lena has watched her young man-crazy single mom Lucy waste her time on a series of less-than-perfect boyfriends. And even though she should be paying attention to the neighborhood boys’ flirtations herself, Lena has been spending most of her time being the mother Lucy forgets to be. But when Mom’s latest boy toy Victor quickly proves to be her worst suitor yet, Lena sets up a trap to expose him for the creep she thinks he is.”
Director: Daniel Burman
2012 | 107 min | Feature Narrative | Country: Argentina
“Uriel, a professional poker player who has bluffed his way through life’s rougher moments, has been on a real hot streak—with the ladies—since his marriage fizzled out. Happy with developing his online gambling business, being single, and raising his two sweet kids, Uriel takes a gamble and decides to have a vasectomy. But just as he embarks on his new life of freedom, he runs into his old pre-marriage flame, Gloria, newly arrived in Buenos Aires after years abroad.”
If you have cash to burn check out even more Latino films at Tribeca.
As Luck Would Have It, a darkly comic satire about a family’s unconditional love, starring Salma Hayek
The Girl, about a gringa desperate for money who becomes a coyote—smuggling immigrants across the Texas border.
Unit 7, a Spanish crime thriller about a police unit on an extremely dangerous special mission.
Xingu, an inspiring story of human rights and environmental activism, inspired by true events in a village of Brazilian Xingu Indians
The 11th annual Tribeca Film Festival will take place in Lower Manhattan from April 18 – April 29, 2012. Ticket sales begin April 16 and can be purchased online, by telephone, or at one of the Ticket Outlets, with locations at Tribeca Cinemas at 54 Varick Street, Clearview Cinemas Chelsea at 260 W. 23rd Street, and AMC Loews Village VII at 66 3rd Avenue.