The Hola Mexico Film Festival is celebrating its 10th year anniversary in style. From its papel picado poster art to its decision to screen three groundbreaking Mexican films at the Montalbán Theater’s rooftop, the Los Angeles-based fest is further cementing itself as an event like no other. As usual, audiences will be greeted with both mainstream and indie films from across the border that encompass the broad range of talent that can be found in Mexico.
This year’s fest is opening with Javier Colinas’ rom-com A ti te quería encontrar (I Was Looking For You), which stars Sense8 and Ingobernable‘s Eréndira Ibarra and closes out with the prison/dance drama Sacúdete las penas. In between you’ll be able to spend your evenings watching horror films about kids who see ghosts, lo-fi sci-fi rom-coms (or vacation horror dramas) starring Luis Gerardo Mendez, and even documentaries about the perils of commuting. Better still, if you’ve yet to catch Y tu mamá también, El laberinto del fauno, or Amores perros on the big screen, Hola Mexico’s 10th Anniversary Rooftop screenings can easily help you remedy that.
To celebrate this great milestone, we’ve singled out ten titles screening at this year’s fest that you should check out. Find them all below.
Hola Mexico Film Festival runs June 1-9, 2018.
Pedro and Eva arrive at the Vistamar mega-resort to “heal” their lives. Settling into a private villa with their young son, they’re surprised to find another family at the door; a clerical mistake has left them double-booked. The families make do, attending the resort’s time-share seminar and enjoying its pools and activities, and they are catered to by the staff of “leisure experts,” including Andres and Gloria, an estranged, middle-aged couple. While Gloria advances her career, Andres toils in a laundry job, dubious of the resort’s new corporate ownership. As Pedro becomes paranoid that his family is being pried away from him, he and Andres band together to expose the sinister forces at work in the tropical paradise. The film stars Luis Gerardo Méndez (Club de Cuervos), RJ Mitte, Miguel Rodarte, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Montserrat Maranon, and Andrés Almeida.
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.
Camino a Marte
Emilia escapes from a hospital to travel through Baja California with her friend Violeta. She’s been getting treatment for a while and it’s clear this may well be her final chance to enjoy her life to the fullest—and truly, nothing is quite as life-affirming as the landscapes and vistas in this Baja road trip. On their way, the two free-spirited best friends stumble onto a man claiming to have come from another planet. As a powerful storm threatens to make landfall and cause utter destruction, this inscrutable young man (played by Club de Cuervos‘ Luis Gerardo Mendez) keeps saying he’s come to Earth in order to witness the end of humanity. Emilia and Violeta think he is crazy, or perhaps just disoriented, but something makes them slowly start to believe him. And soon, concepts of love (which he decries) and humanity start seeming to be more weighted the more this end of the world nonsense starts to feel more real.
Jordan Belfi (Grey’s Anatomy, Entourage), Ana Claudia Talancón and Isela Vega star in this romantic comedy about a Chicago-based stand-up comedian, David Green, who finds out that the Mexican biological mother he never knew has passed away and left him a restaurant in Mexico City. David travels to Mexico where, with the help of Sol, the restaurant’s chef, he embarks on a journey in search of his roots and the secret recipe for a soup created by his mother.
A ti te quería encontrar
A few weeks before his wedding with Julia, the perfect girlfriend, Diego is forced by his father to remodel a hotel he destroyed during his wild bachelor party. There, he meets Lu, the hotel’s manager, who is a free, audacious, and beautiful woman. Lu will push Diego to confront his fears and take control of his life for the first time. A Ti Te Queria Encontrar (I Was Looking For You) is a story about daring to do what makes you happy and not to settle for the less risky choice. It’s a journey of self-discovery, bravery, and love.
La libertad del diablo
Going beyond the headlines and abstract statistics regarding the gruesome effects of the battle against drug crimes in Mexico, acclaimed documentarian Everardo Gonzalez presents the viewer with first-hand accounts from both victims and perpetrators. Those who live with the absence of their loved ones, and those who have caused them. Their faces are hidden behind a mask to preserve their anonymity, and though their emotions are concealed, we sense them all the more because of this. Their detailed and shocking confessions are juxtaposed with episodes from everyday life, creating a complex portrait of a society grappling with its brutal reality.
Hailed by Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro as one of the best Mexican films in recent years, Issa Lopez’s dark fantasy is a heartfelt genre film that surpasses all expectations. Its protagonist, 10-year-old Estrella, has three wishes. The first one is for her missing mother to return. Her wish is granted, but her mother is dead and her ghost follows her everywhere. Terrified, Estrella tries to escape by joining a gang of orphan children, but she quickly discovers that in the real world, ghosts are never truly left behind, and that only the bravest survive the brutality and violence that surround her.
6-year-old Jacinta guides us through the story of siblings Dylan, Andrea and Lucas, who arrive in a fishing community on Mexico’s Pacific coast. Together, Jacinta and her new friends set off on a journey of discovery in search of a long lost pirate treasure left behind by Francis Drake centuries ago. Armed with their intelligence, a Tablet, some clues, and a map, these children are given the freedom to indulge in their lust for life and curiosity. Guided by these innocent virtues, they will find something much more valuable than a buried treasure. Through colorful and lively images, the story takes us to a place of optimism, beauty, and wonder.
Introverted and bright, Rosario Castellano is a university student who is ahead of her time and doesn’t fit society’s expectations. In the early 1950s in Mexico City, she is fighting to have her voice heard in a society run by men. She is about to become one of the most important female writers in the history of Mexican literature, but her tumultuous love story with Ricardo Guerra will reveal her fragility and contradictions. At the peak of her career and risking her marriage, she will ignite a discussion that will mark a turning point in her life and that of many other Mexican women.
Following three parallel stories of people living in three of the world’s most emblematic and highly populated cities: Mexico City, Los Angeles, and Istanbul, this documentary captures its characters’ daily odyssey moving between home and work. Although their contexts are distinct, they share the fact that they spend almost half of their lives on the road trying to make a living. All three feel they are losing something essential through their commute: time with their love ones and the things that truly matter.