The largest festival of Mexican cinema outside of our southern neighboring country is gearing up for its eighth year. After beginning in Sydney, Australia and after a brief stint in other cities, the Hola Mexico Film Festival will be taking over downtown Los Angeles yet again for what promises to be its best year yet.
For those Angelenos who were envious of the Remezcla peeps who got to see Diego Luna’s Mr. Pig film at Sundance this past January, Hola Mexico has you covered. The Danny Glover/Maya Rudolph father-daughter film will be one of 21 films playing at the festival. And for those hoping to find some child-friendly fare, the fest also has you covered, with two films playing in the “Hola Niños” program, giving you a chance to make this a family affair.
So whether you’re looking to see what Jane the Virgin’s Rogelio (aka Jaime Camil) can do outside of everyone’s favorite CW telenovela, who’s behind the masks of your favorite Mexican luchadores, or what Zoé gets up to when they’re on tour, we’ve singled out the 10 titles you shouldn’t miss.
Eubanks (Danny Glover), an old-school pig farmer from Georgia on the brink of losing his family farm, sets off on a road trip with Howard, his beloved and very large pig. As they make their way across the border to Mexico to find “Howie” a new home, Eubanks’ drinking and deteriorating health begin to take a toll, derailing their plans. His estranged daughter, Eunice (Maya Rudolph), is forced to join them on their adventure. Driven by strong convictions and stubbornness in his old ways, Eubanks attempts to make peace through his devotion to Howie and desire to mend his broken relationships.
Made in Bangkok
A transgender opera singer from the state of Guanajuato takes on persistent social stigmas and the disapproval of her own family to pursue her dream of self transformation. Mexico-based Argentine director Flavio Florencio follows Morganna from their first encounter in a Mexico City cantina all the way across the world to Thailand, where she undergoes gender reassignment surgery in hopes of finally finding a body fitting for her authentic self.
This is the story of adolescent Ulises, whose sincere love for his girlfriend Sofía is complicated when his father forces him to join the family business. As Ulises reluctantly enters the sordid world of human trafficking and forced prostitution alongside his older brother, he is compelled to exploit his deep bond with Sofía in order to make her his first victim. Director David Pablos brings an unmistakably personal vision to his material along with years of extensive research that imbues the film with a level of chilling verisimilitude. This is only enhanced by the film’s naturalistically-lit, almost documentary-like aesthetic.
Sopladora de hojas
Subtitled “A Quotidian Epic in 9 Chapters,” Leaf Blower is a frank and an intimate take on the growing pains of your teenage years. Lucas, Emilio and Rubén have one quest to accomplish: find a set of keys in a pile of dead leaves though obviously Iglesias’s film uses this quaint task to unearth the larger questions that riddle the lives of these young men who are on the verge of growing up. (And who may well remain that way).
El bosque de Karadima
Based on a true and unfortunately, all too common, story, El bosque de Karadima centers on the Father Karadima, the pastor and leader of the most powerful Church of the Chilean upper class, who was eventually found guilty of sexually abusing minors. In this fictional retelling, Lira asks us to follow this Spotlight-like narrative through the eyes of Thomas, a teenager who over 20 years endured physical and psychological abuse before deciding to speak out and confront the Church establishment and Karadima himself.
Ella es Ramona
If given the chance, would you wish yourself a better life? One, perhaps, where your chubbiness is not something your coworkers make fun of but something that would empower you? These are the questions at the heart of this quirky comedy about Ramona, who’s fed up with having her weight be the butt of everyone’s jokes—especially after it cost her her job! But things turn around when she finds herself in a mysterious Tarot café that may hold the necessary magic to change her life. Hilarity, of course, ensues.
The Aparicios are cursed: the members of this all-female family are destined to be widowed and bear only girls. Can the discovery of a body in their ranch in Xico, in the state of Veracruz, help them find out what brought this curse upon them even as they try to navigate their tricky personal lives? That’s the motivating question at the heart of this telenovela-like movie which, unsurprisingly, is in itself based on a 2010 Mexican soap opera of the same name.
Get an unprecedented look at the behind the scenes workings of what goes on in the Mexican Lucha Libre spectacle. Lucha Mexico follows “El 1000% Guapo” as he gives audiences a chance to see what it takes to become one of the best luchadores of the modern era while trying to show what it is that makes this pastime such an enduring success. Filled with charismatic performers and plenty of footage from the ring, Lucha Mexico is sure to please fans of the masked wrestlers as well as those curious about this ever-growing sport.
Jane the Virgin’s Jaime Camil is the “Director” of an acting troupe, Ilusiones S.A. (“We Fulfill Your Dreams”), whose mission is to act out real circumstances to brighten the lives of others. When Mr. Balboa hires them to impersonate his grandson and his wife for the purposes of keeping Mrs. Balboa from realizing the young man has actually died and her husband has been the one fabricating fake letters to keep her from finding these tragic news, the troupe is presented with their most difficult gig yet. Can they keep up the ruse, especially when another man shows up claiming to be the missing grandson?
Shot over two period while Zoé was touring, Panoramas gives an inside look at one of Latin America’s top alternative rock-music acts. And just like the best music docs out there, Guardiola and Cruz Rivas’s flick—in true cinema verité style—merely lets the cameras rove around studio sessions, late-night outings, and green rooms where the camaraderie of the Mexican band members shines through as they contemplate where they’ve come from and where they’re headed.