Film

From Showgirls to Aliens: 12 Must-See Latin American Movies at Los Cabos Film Festival

Read more

Could you ask for a more exciting setting for a film festival than Los Cabos? With landscapes where desert and sea come together, and with perfect beach weather all year round, the region around Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo is the type of tourist destination likely to be at the top of your vacation wish list.

That’s why avid cinephiles have welcomed the chance to visit the Baja California Sur area for the relatively new Los Cabos International Film Festival. Celebrating its fifth year this November with an impressive roster, the fest has made a name for itself by promoting the growth of North America’s film industry. That has meant that in past editions movies like I Promise You Anarchy, From Afar and Güeros have played alongside Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition, Todd Haynes’ Carol, Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, and Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills. More than merely showcasing exciting projects from the region, the fest nurtures filmmakers with their Cabos In Progress and Cabos Discovery programs, making sure new voices find the networking and industry support they need to succeed.

Kicking off this year’s edition with Pablo Larraín‘s Jackie, offering tributes to American director Oliver Stone (Snowden), Mexican cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (whose credits include Biutiful, The Wolf of Wall Street and Lust/Caution) and French actress Monica Belluccinot to mention the hosting the world premiere of the Natalia Lafourcade behind-the-scenes music doc Hasta la raízthere will be no shortage of exciting flicks and stars to catch at the seaside fest. As always, Remezcla has you covered. Check out the full list below of all the Latino and Latin American films playing at the festival. Keep an eye out for our coverage of Los Cabos here.

Los Cabos International Film Festival runs November 9-13, 2016.

1

Aquarius

Kleber Mendonça Filho

Clara (a luminous Sonia Braga) is the last resident of the Aquarius, an classic art deco building built in Recife’s upper-class Boa Viagem Avenue. Despite being offered a good deal for her apartment by developers, this spry 65-year old is not ready to part from the place she’s made her home and where she raised her children. The construction company, which is intent on building a New Aquarius, begins implementing increasingly aggressive methods to get the former music critic to sell. But all this drama creates for Clara is a renewed sense of vigor that pushes her to think back to her life lived and to embrace her her present-day vitality.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
France, Brazil
Kleber Mendonça Filho
Saïd Ben Saïd, Michel Merkt, Emilie Lesclaux
2016
142

2

Hasta la raíz

Bruno Bancalari, Juan Pablo López-Fonseca

“This album made me want to find my roots.” That’s how Natalia Lafourcade describes the process of writing her Grammy award-winning album Hasta la raíz. This video diary-cum-documentary, takes you behind the scenes of how the Mexican singer-songwriter created her most intimate and successful album yet. Beautifully lensed in black and white, showcasing the vibrant Mexican landscapes that served as inspiration for the album’s production, the film offers a firsthand look at Lafourcade’s process, reminding you why she’s one of the most exciting talents working today.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
Mexico
Music, Documentary
Natalia Lafourcade, Bruno Bancalari, Juan Pablo López-Fonseca
Gonzalo Herrerias, Guillermo Gutierrez Leyva, Azucena Olvera
2016
60

3

Soy Nero

Rafi Pitts

Nero Maldonado, a 19-year-old Mexican boy, dreams of crossing the border and immigrating to the U.S. When he’s finally able to hop across and wade his way through Los Angeles, making it to his half-brother’s house in Beverly Hills, his options when it comes to getting the documents he so desperately wants are slim. That’s what leads him to sign up for the military, becoming one of the many “Green Card Soldiers” who are deployed on behalf of the U.S. Army with promise of citizenship upon their return. Pairing the desert of the border with that of the Middle East where Nero finds himself fighting, Rafi Pitts’ film is a timely tale of border crossing.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
Germany, France, Mexico
Thriller, Drama
Rafi Pitts, Razvan Radulescu
Rita Dagher, Martin Hampel, Thanassis Karathanos, Nicolás Celis
2016
117

4

La región salvaje

Amat Escalante

In this eerie film, Mexican filmmaker Amat Escalante has crafted two halves of a hypnotic whole. One half is a family drama about Alejandra (Ruth Ramos) and her ultra macho husband Angel (Jesús Meza), whose outward homophobia is actually masking the affair he’s having with his wife’s brother (Eden Villavicencio). The other is a body horror flick centered on a mysterious woman whom Alejandra meets and who will allow her to access the inner strength she didn’t know she had. Set in Guanajuato, its fog-ridden imagery adds to the sense of danger and fear that lurks under this seemingly straightforward narrative that just gets wilder and, yes, more untamed as it unfolds.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Germany, France, Mexico
Horror, Drama
Amat Escalante, Gibrán Portela
Fernanda de la Peza, Amat Escalante, Jaime Romandia
2016
100

5

X500

Juan Andrés Arango García

A Filipino woman has recently moved to Montreal with her grandmother. A Mexican man has left his indigenous community behind and now lives in Mexico City. A Colombian fisherman in Buenaventura hopes to distance himself from the rural criminal gang life he’s left behind. Three stories of newcomers and immigrants are woven together in this striking multicultural film that tackles (in Mazahua, Tagalog, French, English, and Spanish, no less!) what it means to deal with the violence and loss around you in a foreign land. Colorfully depicting Canada, Mexico, and Colombia, X500 goes global by focusing on the local, immersing audiences in these disparate but ultimately similar stories around the world.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
Canada, Colombia, Mexico
Drama
Juan Andrés Arango García
Yanick Létourneau, Jorge Andrés Botero, Luis Salinas, Edher Campos
2016
104

6

William, el nuevo maestro del judo

Ricardo Silva, Omar Guzmán

There’s no easy way to describe Ricardo Silva and Omar Guzmán’s film. It’s partly a character study on William Clauson, an aging Swedish musician living in Tijuana. It’s partly a nature documentary singling out the oldest living tree. It’s also a portrait of homoerotic desire. There are scripted scenes and there are captured ethnographic scenes. This collage of images creates a poetic version of docufiction that defies labels and haunts for the various striking images it conjures in Tijuana and abroad.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
Mexico
Docufiction, Documentary
Julia Pastrana
Paulina Valencia, Geminiano Pineda
2016

7

Carroña

Sebastián Hiriart

“Storms help to cleanse everything and make stale waters go away.” At least that’s the trio of characters in Carroña would like to believe. Gabino and Manuela are in Oaxaca on holidays, the former learning to surf the waves while the latter is content just taking in the beautiful vistas. Their encounter with a local surfer named King Black puts into relief the way their relationship is on the rocks. When an impending violent storm is headed their way, it’s clear that it may very well be mirroring the tempestuous triangle at the heart of the film.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
Mexico
Drama
Sebastián Hiriart, María Gonzales de León, Ernesto Anaya
Sebastián Hiriart, Belem Castro
2016

8

Tamara y la catarina

Lucía Carreras

Tamara lives an isolated life. Amidst the bustling world of Mexico City, her mental and physical limitations keep her cocooned in her house where she takes care of lizards and ladybugs. And so, when she finds an abandoned baby one day and takes it home with her, it disrupts her very own existence. With the help of Doña Meche, her upstairs neighbor (another recluse), Tamara sets out to find out how to find the baby’s parents, embarking on an adventure that will force her out of her comfort zone while putting into relief the loneliness that’s become a comforting part of her routine.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
Spain, Mexico
Drama
Lucía Carreras
Ana V. Bojorquez, Sandra Paredes
2016
107

9

Los paisajes

Rodrigo Cervantes

Two estranged brothers, Alonso and Paco, are expats in Europe. The former has recently been expelled from his boarding school in England. The latter is living in Paris with his girlfriend. With news that their father is set to be released from jail, the two Mexican brothers head to the French countryside where their frayed relationship will be put to a test and where Paco’s attempts at building himself a life anew will come crumbling down.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
United Kingdom, France, Mexico
Drama
Santiago Mohar Volkow, Rodrigo Cervantes
Víctor Shuchleib, Pauline Galtié
2016
75

10

Bellas de Noche

María José Cuevas

In the 1970s and 1980s, Mexico’s burlesque culture was at its disco-era heyday. The clubs were filled with beautiful women who razzled and dazzled. Decades later, Beauties of the Night introduces us to five of those former showgirls who recount their lives in the spotlight and give us a glimpse of what they’re up to nowadays. Shot over eight years, María José Cuevas’s documentary is a thrilling look at these exotic dancers who continue to search for the love and adoration they got on stage all those years ago.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
Mexico
Documentary
María José Cuevas
María José Cuevas, Moisés Cosío, Gerardo Gatica, Christian Valdelièvre
2016
91

11

La Habitación

Daniel Giménez Cacho, Carlos Bolado, Alfonso Pineda Ulloa, Alejandro Valle, Iván Ávila Dueñas, Carlos Carrera, Natalia Beristáin, Ernesto Contreras

Can a room tell the history of a country? That’s the premise behind this anthology film. Directed by 8 different filmmakers, including Natalia Beristáin, Carlos Carrera and Alfonso Pineda Ulloa, Tales of Mexico offers vignettes set in key moments of the country’s 20th Century history—the Ten Tragic Days of the Mexican Revolution, the anti-Chinese campaign, the Tlatelolco Massacre, and the 1985 Earthquake. Together they weave together a painfully personal tapestry of the impact national events have on the everyday lives of its population.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt

https://vimeo.com/185571798

Poland, Mexico
Anthology, Drama
Maria Diego Hernandez
Marta Habior, Marta Lewandowska, Luis Salinas, Edher Campos
2016
118

12

Mientras el lobo no está

Joseph Hemsani

It’s 1958. Alex wants to be a motorcyclist; Patricio wants to love seven women; Ricardo dreams of being a writer, and Jorge would like to be an aviator. What holds these kids away from their dreams is an strict orphanage, the tyrannical control of the administrator, and the woods that isolate them from the world. In an environment full of permanent abuse, age-old complicities and legends of unlikely escapes, the children try to maintain their friendship, find love, and survive the violence.

Mexico
Mystery, Thriller, Drama
Joseph Hemsani, Abe Rosenberg
Joseph Hemsani, Abe Rosenberg
2017
123