Ah, Thanksgiving. A truly United States holiday that asks us to stuff a turkey and then ourselves silly with as many sides as your moms, tías and abuelas can cook up. And while Thanksgiving dinners may come with requisite disagreements (about the current state of the world, the validity of this holiday, the latest breaking news alerts) there is nothing quite like spending an entire day en familia. Knowing that you can’t spend the entire day eating and chatting, we’ve cooked up a list of Latino films to tide you over once you finish your delicious meal.
Whether you’re in the mood for some informative docs, heartwarming family dramas, or just a good ol’ fashioned Gael García Bernal star vehicle, find below our all Latino picks for your post-pavo streaming needs.
Teenage buddies Cisco, Boobie, Junior, and Patty Cake skateboard the streets of Cleveland, Ohio, dreaming of getting discovered by a sponsor and skating their way out of poverty. That is, until the boys discover a bag full of pills in the back of a stolen car. Cisco’s entrepreneurial instincts take over, and in a flash their lives get better. But no one counted on having to come face to face with the cold, calulating, and notorious drug queenpin, “Momma,” who runs the toughest gang in town.
Searching for Sugar Man
A couple of years ago, you probably hadn’t heard of Sixto Rodriguez. Now, thanks to this Oscar-winning documentary, go into any vinyl store and his records are some of the first you can expect to see. This is the story of the 1970s American folk singer known simply as Rodriguez, an unknown in his own country but a star to white liberals in apartheid-era South Africa. In spite of his fame, little was known about what became of the musician, other than persistent rumors he had died onstage several years previously. Malik Bendjelloul’s film follows two South African fans as they seek to discover the mystery behind the Sugar Man.
Pelé: Birth of a Legend
From the slums of Brazil to center stage at the world’s biggest sporting event, Pelé’s rise to become the youngest-ever World Cup winner, at the age of 17, was nothing short of a miracle. Full of laughs, life lessons, and heart, this inspiring biopic is perfect for introducing a new generation to the greatest soccer player of all time.
Tackling the ever timely issue of immigration, the younger Cuarón’s Desierto takes that one crossing-the-border plot line from Babel, adds in a ruthless minuteman (Watchmen‘s Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and for good measure, gives us Gael García Bernal in full-on survival mode. When a group of Mexicans try to cross over into the United States, they are forced to face a rifle-toting vigilante who’s intent on putting a bullet in them before they get any further along the border.
¿Qué Culpa Tiene el Niño?
This romantic comedy stars How To Get Away With Murder‘s Karla Souza, the reigning queen of Mexican box office. Taking a page out of Knocked Up, ¿Qué Culpa Tiene el Niño? follows Maru, a young woman who gets pregnant after a one-night stand at a wedding party. After tracking down the father, an immature young bachelor (the sexy Ricardo Abarca) who is most definitely a step down from what her wealthy parents had envisioned for the Maru, she decides to get married because, what could possibly go wrong, right?
Bellas de Noche
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.
Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives
In the 1990s, Robert “Bobbito” García and Adrian “Stretch” Bartos emerged as two of the most influential hip-hop DJs in American radio with their quirky, offbeat nightly radio hour, The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show, on Columbia University’s WKCR. From 1990 to 1998, the two friends gave savvy listeners their first taste of unsigned acts like Nas, Notorious B.I.G., Wu-Tang Clan and Big Pun. Directed by Bobbito himself, Stretch and Bobbito delves into the deep friendship that drove the show, as well as the unlikely cult following they developed along the way.
Saneamento Básico, O Filme
A small community of descendants of Italian immigrants in the interior of the state of Rio Grande do Sul discovers their town lacks funding for a sewage system. The townspeople decide to make a short sci-fi monster movie about the problem in hopes of bringing awareness and getting the money to fix it.
Sabrás qué hacer conmigo
Charming photographer Nicolás and confident student Isabel’s eyes meet across a hospital corridor and a passionate love affair ensues. As self-assured as each of them initially appears to be, both have their own demons to fight. Nicolás is irritated by Isabel’s reticence, and Isabel, in turn, has to deal with his illness. The imaginatively structured melodrama highlights the process of getting to know someone as you fall in love.
Intrigued by a DNA test Residente takes that reveals to him information about his ancestry, the 24-time Grammy Award-winning Puerto Rican rapper, founder of the alternative rap group Calle 13 and recipient of the Nobel Peace Summit Award, takes a trip around the world to learn about his family history and to record his new album. Directed by Residente – aka Rene Perez Joglar – himself, the doc tells his own story about how he started as a struggling art student to become a member of one of Latin America’s most influential rap groups as well as a social justice and a political activist.
This raucous Chilean comedy follows Pía (Paz Bascuñán), a woman who, after visiting a Chinese doctor to settle a pain in her chest, finds herself unable to filter her thoughts. Everything she would usually bottle up—her frustrations with her partner, with her boss, with strangers on the street—suddenly flows out of her. This being a comedy in the vein of Jim Carrey’s Liar, Liar, Pía soon finds out that while this newfound honesty is liberating, it also comes at a price.
What exactly happened to the Armani suits, mink coats, and feathered hats of the Superfly era? When did urban fashion become synonymous with Pumas, Lee Jeans, and Kangols? These are the questions taken on by director Sacha Jenkins in Fresh Dressed, an in-depth look at the development of hip hop street fashion, including the inevitable role played by New York Latinos in its evolution. The result is a fascinating reflection on the cultural shifts that characterized urban America in the 1970s and 80s.
Como agua para chocolate
Based on the popular magical realist novel by Laura Esquivel, Como agua para chocolate (Like water for chocolate) is set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution and its immediate aftermath. Tita is the youngest daughter in a traditional Mexican family and is forbidden from marrying her true love, Pedro, so that she may care for her aging mother. With little choice, Pedro opts to marry Tita’s sister, Rosaura, instead, but over decades of revolution, sickness and family upheaval, their love remains unbroken.
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.
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.
Filmed almost entirely in the Kaqchikel dialect spoken in Guatemala’s coffee-growing highlands, Ixcanul dramatizes the story of María, a young Mayan woman who is promised to the coffee plantation foreman, despite her desire for a lowly coffee cutter named Pepe. Dreaming of absconding with Pepe to a romanticized vision of the United States, María eventually has the encounter with modernity she so yearned for, but not for the reasons she had hoped. In addition to the impressive naturalistic performances from the film’s non-professional cast, Ixcanul’s visuals are extremely powerful, with radiant bronze skin tones, textured interiors, and the requisite breathtaking landscapes.
Strike a Pose
This must-watch doc for Madonna fans features the familiar faces of José Gutierrez and Luis Camacho, the two Latino dancers from New York City who introduced the Queen of Pop to the practice of vogueing and who would later join her in the Blonde Ambition tour. Alongside Kevin, Oliver, Luis, Carlton, Jose, Gabriel and Salim, José and Luis are a diverse, impressionable group of young dancers whose lives were forever changed by Madonna’s iconic blonde ambition tour and its accompanying documentary, Truth or Dare. No longer swept up in the thrill of Madonna’s inarguable power, some found life – away from her influence – emotionally devastating and near impossible to navigate. Strike a Pose movingly revisits the men after years apart and provides us with a chance to learn about the emotional truth behind the glamorous facade.
Betting on Zero
Allegations of corporate criminality and Wall Street vendettas swirl throughout this riveting financial docu-thriller. Controversial hedge fund titan Bill Ackman is on a crusade to expose global nutritional giant Herbalife as the largest pyramid scheme in history. He argues the company targets working-class Latino communities with a “business opportunity” that is nothing more than a scheme. Meanwhile, Herbalife execs defend their product as a genuine opportunity and accuse Ackman of being an unadorned market manipulator out to bankrupt them in order to make a killing off his billion-dollar short position against the company. Amidst the heated rhetoric on both sides, who has the moral standing?
O menino e o mundo
This modern-day fable follows the adventures of a young boy who leaves his small village after the death of his father only to find himself immersed in a chaotic and often confusing modern world filled with strange creatures, fantastic machines and giant, impersonal monuments to human progress. Filled with idiosyncratic plays on perspective and employing a variety of techniques — including collages pasted alongside the thick, waxy lines of Crayola crayons — O menino e o mundo feels like stepping into the imagination of a child set to a joyous samba soundtrack. The film was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 2016 Academy Awards.
Grab a pencil and paper and imagine your ideal man. Start drawing the shape of his face, then fill in the hair, eyes, nose; now move down to the arms and torso. Is he starting to look like Gael García Bernal? That’s the premise of a new film by Brazilian director Pedro Morelli, who is perhaps best known for his previous father-son directorial outing, Entre Nós. In Zoom, the artist in question is a young lady who happens to work at a sex doll factory and moonlights as a comic book artist. When she’s disappointed by a breast augmentation surgery and her boyfriend’s reaction to her new bosom, she starts doodling her way to her ideal man, bestowing him with some exceptionally large loins before erasing and reducing them to a minuscule stump. In the cartoon world that Gael García Bernal’s character inhabits, this sudden and unexplained reduction in his manly vigor sets off a creative crisis just as he is filming his latest feature.
Miguel has always wanted to pursue his passion for music. But his family, especially his abuelita, is against it. Music has been banned in their household for generations. But during this year’s Día de Muertos, he decides to go ahead and join a talent show. Yet when he steals an old guitar from Ernesto de la Cruz, a legendary singer who may well be his ancestor, he crosses over into the Land of the Dead, where he’ll have to earn his family’s blessing before traveling back. Pixar’s colorful celebration of the Day of the Dead quickly becomes a rollicking adventure through a world filled with skeletal ancestors, brightly tinged alebrijes and a trusty trickster by the name of Hector (Gael García Bernal).
Read Remezcla’s review.
A young Mexican parrot, who admires the TV crime-fighting superhero El Americano, would rather imitate the crazy stunts of his idol than help with chores at his family’s circus. Yet when a gang of birds threatens his father and takes over the circus, Cuco sets off on a journey to Hollywood to enlist his hero in the fight to defend his family only to discover the true hero within himself.
Latin History for Morons
This hilarious and educational special is a taped performance of John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons. The one-man show from the Colombian comedian began as a small production at California’s Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2016. It then moved east and opened Off-Broadway at the Public before it went on to have its Tony-nominated run on Broadway. As its title implies, Leguizamo’s latest is all about unearthing the long-storied legacy of Latinos all throughout the continent. Prompted by his son’s school project on historical heroes, Leguizamo launches into a lecture about the many Latino military heroes who have served in the United States army, placing those contributions alongside breakthroughs that we owe to the Aztecs, Mayas and Taínos. The entire show is a reminder that despite what US history textbooks and mainstream media (let alone xenophobic and racist politicians) may tell you, Latinos have long been a central part of the United States.
También la lluvia
Spain’s entry for the 2011 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Y también la lluvia, centers around the making of a grand historical epic about Christopher Columbus’s first journey to the New World and the subsequent rebellion he faced by an Indigenous group led by Hatuey. Opting to lower his costs, director Sebastián (Gael García Bernal) and his production head to Bolivia, where they’re able to pay extras a measly $2 a day. Once he discovers the young man he’s cast as Hatuey is involved in the protests against the Bolivian government’s decision to privatize the country’s water, Sebastián realizes his film may not survive this 20th-century uprising. Shot with the scope of an epic historical drama, Icíar Bollaín’s film is an urgent reminder of how little has changed in 500 years when it comes to Indigenous populations in the Americas.
Señor Lino (José Carlos Ruiz), a faithful employee about to retire, and Nin (Hoze Meléndez), the young slacker who is to take over share five days on a worksite, work in an enormous empty warehouse where apparently nothing ever happens. In this absurd comedy-drama, director Jack Zagha Kababie offers an examination of working life by pitting two men who stand at opposite ends of the work ethic spectrum. Feeling more like a two-hander play (think Pinter or Mamet or Becket) but with enough visual panache to entrance, Almacenados traces their five days together during a week in distinct chapters during which both Nin and Señor Lino will get to know one another and perhaps learn a bit about themselves in the process.