You’ve breezed through season one of Los Espookys. You’ve re-watched all the Richie-heavy episodes of Looking, and even revisited Westworld’s last season to better understand it before it comes back. Yet you’re itching for a movie, not a binge-worthy show, that’ll have you glued to the couch the entire weekend; something that’ll make for lovely evening screening entertainment. Thankfully, befitting its OG name — “Home Box Office” — HBO has a stellar a roster of films for whenever you’re done visiting Westeros or Monterrey.
Thankfully, HBO doesn’t just carry Hollywood blockbusters or indie darlings. Among its slate you can also find some of the best-reviewed U.S. Latino and Latin American films. From America Ferrera’s breakout role, an eerie supernatural drama about shameful desires, a music doc about Ruben Blades, to a funny comedy about a stoner superhero – the network’s streaming options have something for everyone. We’ve chosen an even 20 for you to sample from in the list below. Check them out and be sure to add them to your watchlist.
These movies are available on all of HBO’s digital platforms (HBO GO, HBO NOW and On Demand).
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.
Ruben Blades Is Not My Name
Considered by many as the first musician to bring salsa music to an international audience, Panamanian singer, songwriter, and actor Ruben Blades is highlighted in a documentary that spans his 50-year career and gives audiences an in-depth look at his musical and political aspirations. (Does he really want to run for president of Panama?). The doc attempts to help Blades decide what the term legacy actually means. Blades has won 17 Grammys, earned a law degree from Harvard University, and has starred in such films as the 1988 comedy drama The Milagro Beanfield War, 2000’s drama All the Pretty Horses, and 2016’s biopic Hands of Stone. He currently stars on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead.
Barely 20 years old, Dolores Dreier (Lali Espósito), has spent the last two years hiding from the outside world under the ever-watchful eyes of her parents. Dolores suddenly finds herself as the only suspect in her best friend’s murder; she’s the last person to see her alive before her brutal death. Under intrusive media scrutiny, and facing accusations from the general public and the speculation of friends and family, Dolores is feeling hollowed out and drained from the experience. At first reading like a criminal procedural, Gonzalo Tobal’s accomplished second feature Acusada (The Accused) develops into a reflection on the way our society processes true-life crime stories.
Based on the true story of Carlos Eduardo Robledo Puch (aka “El ángel de la muerte”), Luis Ortega’s film tells the story of the most famous serial killer in Argentina’s history. El ángel kicks off the story when Carlitos (Lorenzo Ferro) meets Ramon at his new school. Wanting to impress his new friend, Carlitos will begin the path that’ll make him a thief and a murderer. With his baby face and his blond curls, the young killer became a celebrity when his exploits (which included over 40 thefts and 11 homicides) were exposed and he was captured.
En el séptimo día
Acclaimed director Jim McKay’s first film in over a decade is this timely, compassionate, often humorous look at life in New York as an undocumented Mexican immigrant. José works long hours making bicycle deliveries for a restaurant in Carroll Gardens and spends his days off on the soccer fields of Sunset Park. When his team makes it to the championship, José suddenly finds himself forced to choose between his job and his loyalty to his team. Shot on the streets of Brooklyn, McKay’s film vividly captures the everyday struggles and camaraderie that binds a community together in this universally relevant story of fortitude and dignity.
High & Mighty
Lovable loser from the hood, Chelo Chavez (Jorge Diaz) needs to get his shit together. After surviving a vicious shooting unscathed, Marcelo “Chelo” Chavez discovers that he has superhuman powers – but only when he’s drunk or high.(Really drunk and really high!) With the help of his sarcastic little sister and his homies Hugo and Pat, Chelo tries to find out how he got these powers and what he’s going to do with them. Will Chelo be the savior of his Latino L.A. hood? Or just a bulletproof bum with a drinking problem?
La región salvaje
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.
Weaving historical elements about the Paraguayan War into a thrilling storyline, the new film by the directors of Paraguayan sensation 7 Boxes, follows Manu, a paperboy from an impoverished neighborhood who, thanks to his treasure hunter grandfather, discovers a map that might lead him to a valuable find. The pressure of helping his family will push Manu to carry out a plan to get to the site, which is now an embassy. Using both Guarani and Spanish, this high-octane adventure is a more visually polished than Schémboru and Maneglia’s gritty previous effort, but just as engaging.
Matar a Jesús
Set in Medellin, this pulse-pounding thriller follows a young girl’s attempts to find the sicarios behind her father’s murder. When the local police proves unhelpful she takes matters into her own hands once she spots the guy on a motorcycle who’d shot her father – who’s a teacher and lawyer. Her intent is to enter his world and getting a hold of a gun to enact the revenge she so lusts for. Drawing from director’s Laura Mora Ortega’s own life (like her protagonist, Mora Ortega’s father was killed and she eventually got to face the guy responsible), Matar a Jesus breathes new life into the kind of violence-ridden Medellin stories arthouse audiences are used to, pausing on the moral ambiguity of her characters’ actions instead.
Drawing from hundreds of hours of footage, filmmaker Rudy Valdez shows the aftermath of his sister Cindy’s incarceration for conspiracy charges related to crimes committed by her deceased ex-boyfriend—something known, in legal terms, as “the girlfriend problem.” Cindy’s 15-year mandatory sentence is hard on everyone, but for her husband and children, Cindy’s sudden banishment feels like a kind of death that becomes increasingly difficult to grapple with. Valdez’s method of coping with this tragedy is to film his sister’s family for her, both the everyday details and the milestones—moments Cindy herself can no longer share in. But in the midst of this nightmare, Valdez finds his voice as both a filmmaker and activist. He and his family begin to fight for Cindy’s release during the last months of the Obama administration’s clemency initiative. Whether their attempts will allow Cindy to break free of her draconian sentence becomes the aching question at the core of this riveting and deeply personal portrait of a family in crisis.
Which Way Home
Each year, thousands of Latin American immigrants travel hundreds of miles to the United States, with many making their way on the tops of freight trains. Roughly 5% of those traveling alone are children. This Academy Award-nominated film follows several unaccompanied children as they journey through Mexico en route to the U.S. on a freight train called “la bestia.” Director Rebecca Cammisa tracks the stories of children like Olga and Freddy, 9-year-old Hondurans who are desperately trying to reach their families in Minnesota; and Jose, a 10-year-old Salvadoran boy who has been abandoned by smugglers and ends up alone in a Mexican detention center, and focuses on Kevin, a canny, street-wise 14-year-old Honduran, whose mother hopes he will reach New York City and send money back to his family. These are stories of hope and courage, disappointment and sorrow. As Cammisa follows these young kids, she shows just how far Central and Latin Americans will go to be reunited with their family in hopes of a better life across the border.
Returning to the political realm after his briskly-paced 2011 debut The Student, Santiago Mitre’s timely third feature, The Summit, explores behind-the-scenes facets of political power and the solitary aspects of the presidential office. Hernán Blanco (an impeccably nuanced performance by Ricardo Darín) faces his first presidential challenge at a South American summit aimed at creating an oil-trade pact for the region. Matters are complicated by backstage family issues that threaten to erode Blanco’s everyman veneer.
Twelve-year-old Pedro roams the streets with his friends, raised by the violent urban atmosphere around him in a working class district of Caracas. After Pedro seriously injures another boy in a rough game of play, single father Andrés decides they must flee to hide. Andrés will realize he is a father incapable of controlling his own teenage son, but their situation will bring them closer than they have ever been. Director Gustavo Rondón’s paints a gritty, fast-paced picture of the violence of everyday life in Venezuela’s capital city while telling the story of a father willing to sacrifice everything for his son.
Nuria and Fabio arrive at dawn with their mother Amparo at an unknown island on the border between Brazil, Colombia and Peru. They are fleeing armed conflicts in Colombia and learn that their father, who had allegedly been killed in a landslide caused by a mining company, is hiding in the stilt house where they come to live. Fearful of betraying this family secret, Nuria goes silent, whereas Fabio seems to have no problem with the matter. In the midst of this process, the family tries to receive compensation for the father’s death and to obtain a visa to emigrate to Brazil. By covering this story, they uncover others about the family’s past; people who have been involved in the armed conflicts of Colombia, which already lasts for over half a century. Gradually, they discover that the island where they are is populated by ghosts, who unite to interfere in the living’s destiny.
Real Women Have Curves
Based on Josefina López’s play by the same name, Patricia Cardoso’s Real Women Have Curves was an instant-classic when it premiered at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. Set in East L.A., the film is centered around Ana García (America Ferrera), a young woman who’s torn between her ambitions and the plan her family (especially her strong-willed mother, played by Lupe Ontiveros) has laid out for her: to marry and provide grandchildren. Working alongside her sister, sneaking away to meet with her high school sweetheart, and later needing to confront her parents about her desire to move to New York City for school, Ana offers a quintessential look at the struggles of first-generation Latino immigrants.
A quiet middle class world of good intentions begins to crumble ahead of 14-year-old Miriam’s quinces. Miriam’s mother (Pachy Méndez), who makes her daughter feel ashamed of her dark skin and so-called unruly hair — perhaps because she still harbors regret over marrying Miriam’s dark-skinned father (Vicente Santos) — is intent on making this party a lavish one. She hopes to distract people from her own ugly divorce proceedings which have Miriam growing up among her light-skinned side of the family. It’s there where plenty of subtle and not-so-subtle pejorative words are flung at anyone darker than them, be they dancing on TV or being part of “the help.” Amid this context, it’s no surprise to find Miriam acting out when she realizes the internet boyfriend everyone (including her!) wants to meet is Black. Quiet and unassuming, this sun-dappled family drama set in the Dominican Republic tackles prickly territory while showing the way colorism affects the youngest among us.
Twenty three-year-old Laura Guerrero (Stephanie Sigman) lives with her father Ramón (Javier Zaragoza) and little brother Arturo (Juan Carlos Galván). Laura and her friend Suzu (Lakshmi Picazo) both enter the competition for the Miss Baja beauty pageant. When Laura witnesses members of the La Estrella gang causing chaos by shooting and killing a number of DEA officers and nightclub-goers during a night out with Suzu, she finds herself embroiled in a dangerous path. Kidnapped by Lino (Noé Hernández), the leader of the La Estrella gang, Laura is forced to do the gang’s bidding, continuing her participation in the pageant against her will even as her allegiances are tested the more she learns about what happened that night at the nightclub. Gripping and tense, this crackling thriller features a breakout performance by Sigman that anchors this powerful indictment of the cruel cartel violence it depicts.
Clínica de Migrantes: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
Puentes de Salud is a volunteer-run clinic that provides free medical care to undocumented immigrants in south Philadelphia. Here, doctors and nurses work for free to serve people who would otherwise fall through the cracks. Clínica de Migrantes, a potent film by Maxim Pozdorovkin, follows the workers and patients of Puentes through months of routine care and growth. Along the way, the film puts a face to the millions of people who exist on the margins of society: people displaced from their homelands, separated from their families, unfamiliar with the customs, unable to obtain health insurance and terrified to come forward to seek medical help. Along with revealing these patient stories, Clínica is also a look at the heroic doctors and nurses who work pro bono to ensure these people receive care, offering a deeply moving look at the limitless potential of humanity.
The Latin Explosion: A New America
Explore the ever-expanding Latin influence on American music and arts in this scintillating documentary. Through stirring performances, precious archival footage and exclusive interviews with the likes of Marc Anthony, Pitbull, Gloria Estefan, José Feliciano and many of the Fania All-Stars, the film spotlights many of the key Latino musical talents who have helped shape America. From Afro-Cuban music in New York City in the 1940s to breakout 21st century talents such as Jennifer Lopez, Shakira and Ricky Martin, Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill’s kinetic doc is an invaluable history lesson that reminds us that the ‘Latin Explosion’ has been an ongoing occurrence — one not easily reduced to a passing fad.
Starring Danny Trejo in his now-signature role as Machete Cortez, Machete is Robert Rodriguez’s bloody ode to B-movies. After nearly being killed during a violent fight with a powerful drug lord, a former Mexican Federal known as Machete roams the Texas streets as a vigilante and sometime day-laborer. Hired to perform a covert hit on a corrupt Texas state senator (played by Robert De Niro) who is sending hundreds of undocumented immigrants out of the country, Machete is double-crossed: his operation, he learns, is a setup so that the senator’s tough anti-immigration stand takes hold once they see his life being threatened by an outlaw Mexican gunman. Forced to go on the run, Machete carves a path of blood, bullets and broken hearts in his quest to settle the score in this rollicking actioner.