Between watching three World Cup matches a day, simultaneously streaming commentary, and compulsively checking Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/WhatsApp for your friends’ reactions, you may think you don’t have any time to watch soccer movies. But you would be wrong. The acronym is All Day I Dream About Soccer, not Part of The Day I Dream About Soccer and Part Of It I Watch Game of Thrones.
Plus, at the end of July when you’re going through some serious World Cup withdrawal and depression, you’ll be thankful to have this list. Trust us. Without further ado, here are the 25 best Latino futbol films.
90 Minutes: The World Cup of New York City
The most diverse city in the world, New York is home to nearly three million immigrants from around the world. 90 Minutes shows us the lives and dreams of a group of New Yorkers hailing from some of the countries participating in the 2006 World Cup, all of whom have the love of the game running through their veins. A portrait of the rich tapestry of New York City as seen through the prism of the world’s greatest sporting event.
The Two Escobars
In the 1990s, the Colombian soccer team set out to blaze a new image for their crime-torn country and rapidly rose to the top ranks. Central to this success were the two Escobars: Andrés, the captain of the national team, and Pablo, the infamous drug baron, who pioneered the phenomenon known as “Narco-soccer.” But just as Colombia was expected to easily advance in the 1994 World Cup, it all fell apart, culminating in the shocking murder of Andrés Escobar. This film daringly investigates the truth behind the killing that dashed the hopes of a nation searching for peace.
Uno: la historia de un gol
In the early 1980s, as El Salvador was in the midst of its brutal civil war, a group of Salvadoran futbol players emerged to unite their entire nation with their game. Achieving an unforgettable qualification to the 1982 World Cup in Spain, they would try to score El Salvador’s first World Cup victory. With a homeland ripped apart by guns and guerrillas, their team’s selection provided hope for all Salvadorans. This insightful and honest film recounts a David-and-Goliath story of great hope and terrible disappointment.
El sueño de todos
For three years, director Hernan Caffiero followed the Chilean national soccer team all over Latin America on their road to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. On the field, next to the players, giving us a glimpse into the backstage turmoil (including the firing of one coach and the hiring of another) and chronicling every match, Caffiero makes us intimate participants in the team’s grueling triumphs and defeats. The first Chilean film shot in 3D.
Gringos at the Gate
For centuries, Mexico has been second best to its rich, powerful neighbor to the north, save for one area: the futbol field. It was the one arena on the world stage where the red, white and green trumped the red, white and blue. In recent years, this balance of power has been shifting, with vast cultural implications on both sides of the border. Gringos at the Gate travels to the US vs. Mexico 2010 World Cup qualifiers and the 2011 Gold Cup final, interviewing players, coaches, fans, and commentators to discover the power and influence a 90 minute soccer game can have on so many lives.
Goal! / Goal II: Living the Dream / Goal III
The enduringly popular Goal! trilogy charts the saga of Santiago Muñez, a Mexican immigrant working as a gardener in Los Angeles who dreams of glory on the soccer field. Over the course of three films, the gifted Santiago will experience triumphs and tribulations aplenty, on and off the pitch, as he plays for Newcastle United in the UK, Real Madrid in Spain and eventually makes it all the way to the World Cup.
Rudo y Cursi
Still one of the highest-grossing Mexican films ever, the hilarious Rudo y Cursi stars Mexican superstars Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna as impoverished peasant brothers working on a banana ranch with dreams of big city fame and glory, one as a soccer star (Luna) the other as a singer (Bernal). Naturally gifted at soccer, both will make their way to Mexico City playing for rival teams. The highlight of this film just may be off the pitch: Bernal crooning a hilariously awful Norteño cover of “I Want You to Want Me.”
La pena máxima
Colombian soccer fanatic Mariano is so convinced his beloved national team will defeat Argentina in their upcoming match, he bets he and his wife’s life savings on the outcome. From there his life will spiral out of control, as a series of unforeseen events thwart him at every turn in this 2001 comedy.
Mujeres con pelotas
With the irresistible tagline, “A story of women with balls,” this documentary follows a group of young women from the infamous Buenos Aires shantytown Villa 31, who fight to form their own soccer team. Overcoming poverty, sexism, and the disinterest of local authorities, these tough, inspiring women will make it all the way to the Homeless World Cup in Brazil.
Manyas, la pelicula
Instantly becoming one of the highest grossing Uruguayan films of all time upon its release in 2011, Manyas chronicles the passionate, vibrant at times even irrational love for Club Atlético Peñarol by its fans. Interviewing journalists, historians, psychologists and, of course, the die-hard fans themselves, Manyas profiles the century-long love affair Uruguayans have for Peñarol.
Accompanied by his son, Yamandu, Uruguayan musician Jaime Roose traveled with his country’s team to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa to give us his own unique take on the sport, his culture, and the father-son dynamic. Scored with Jaime Roose’s ebullient music.
Historias de futbol
Three stories set in various parts of Chile explore the nation’s passion for soccer as seen through the eyes of a trio of young men. These characters will face choices both farcical and serious, as their love and loyalty to the game are put to the test in this gently comical and lyrical film.
An extraordinarily subtle and observant documentary that explores the intense euphoria of a pair of peasant families while watching the participation of Paraguay in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. A revealing glimpse into Paraguayan culture and the everyday lives of its rural inhabitants.
O ano em que meus pais saíram de férias
A milestone of Brazilian cinema, The Year My Parents Went on Vacation tells the story of 12-year-old Mauro, left behind as his political activist parents flee the repressive Brazilian dictatorship. Now taken in by São Paulo’s tightly knit Jewish community, Mauro will come of age against a backdrop of fear and political repression on the one hand and Brazil’s euphoria over their participation in the 1970 World Cup.
El chanfle / El chanfle 2
The two films chronicle the misadventures of the ever-hapless El Chanfle, water boy for the Club America soccer team, whose constant daydreaming, schemes, financial misfortunes, and marital woes are a source of endless laughter. Both films were enormously successful in Latin America and remain enduringly popular.
What would happen if Toy Story and Rudo y Cursi had a baby? I mean probably something more fucked up than this movie but you get the point. Metegol tells the story of a young boy named Amadeo who must face off against his rival on the pitch with the help of his disassembled foosball team. Come for the gorgeous CGI animation, stay for how Argentine the foosball players are.
Días de gracia
Set in Mexico City’s crime-ridden underbelly, a young policeman new to the force attempts to carry out his duties with integrity but runs up against a culture of corruption, fear, and ambivalence. Against the backdrop of three World Cups (2002, 2006, and 2010) his life will become intertwined with both the criminals and their victims in ways he never imagined.
Maradona by Kusturica
Celebrated auteur Emir Kusturica gives us an intimate look at Argentine soccer superstar Diego Maradona. Rising from humble beginnings to achieve worldwide fame, Maradona has been revolutionary, family man, drug addict and, above all else, soccer God. All aspects of his life and personality are explored by Kusturica in this unique portrait of a living legend, one painted with love, humor and, above all else, unstinting honesty.
An exploration of Mexican soccer and the country’s tangled, often painful, history with the World Cup, Ilusión nacional places all this in a sociopolitical context. A brave, unsparing look at how the Mexican national pastime has become inextricably intertwined with the country’s politics, culture, and propensity for corruption. This eye-opening documentary features many of Mexico’s greatest – and most painful – moments in World Cup history.
Rodrigo Santoro stars as Heleno de Freitas, one of Brazil’s greatest soccer stars. Beautiful, stylish, and incredibly gifted on the pitch, Heleno’s life would be undone by his personal demons. Arrogant, temperamental, and prone to drug abuse, he fell victim to all the temptations his worldwide fame had to offer. Exquisitely photographed in black and white, the film brings to life the glamour of postwar Latin America.
Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos
The rise and colossal fall of the New York Cosmos, the team that brought Brazilian soccer superstar Pelé to America, as seen against the backdrop of New York in the 1970s. Steel-willed Cosmos owner Steve Ross made it a priority to bring soccer to the forefront of American popular culture, but with the sport’s new-found higher profile in America came a new set of problems: drugs, greed, and plenty of behind-the-scenes drama.
Atlético san pancho
The little town of San Francisco del Monte was the birthplace of soccer in Mexico but now is a quiet and forgotten place. When Don Pepe, an old janitor in the town’s school, gathers a group of school children and forms a soccer team, it may at last give San Francisco del Monte the recognition it deserves.
Pelada, futebol na favela
A travelogue that takes a look at soccer as it’s played by people throughout the world: burka-clad women in Iran, prisoners in Bolivia, barefoot kids, poor people using their own handmade ball – Pelada shows us that the world’s greatest sport is played all over – in fields, prison yards, and even on rooftops in Tokyo – not for fame or glory but for the sheer love of the game.
A fascinating behind the scenes look at the World Cup of 1950, which culminated in underdog Uruguay taking on the mighty Brazil. Maracana shows us the differing preparation each team took on their way to the World Cup and the varying pressures team members were under, as well as the far-reaching consequences of Brazil’s shocking defeat.
El otro maradona
Goyo Carrizo and Diego Maradona were born days apart in the slums of Buenos Aires. At the age of seven, they would meet on a soccer field and shortly thereafter became part of the “Onions,” a children’s team that would make history for being practically invincible. All who saw the two young gifted players in action argued over who was better. But at the age of 20, a serious injury changed Goyo’s life, creating a destiny far different from Maradona.