Film

10 Must-See Movies at San Francisco Latino Film Festival

Lead Photo: 'Rich Kids' courtesy of NYLFF
'Rich Kids' courtesy of NYLFF

The San Francisco Latino Film Festival is celebrating its 10th year anniversary. Befitting such a milestone, its 2018 program exemplifies what’s made Cine+Más’s mission so crucial in its first decade. As they put it, “Our goal is to showcase films by, about, or made with Latinos to shine a light on inclusion. Films are presented to illuminate our innovative and influential Bay Area audiences with foreign film as a way to celebrate culture and get educated about what’s happening in our world.”

Scouring the Americas for some great films — about famed singers from Panama, queer psychedelic trips in Cuba, Chicano heroes in New Mexico, even ayahuasca chants in the Amazon — the festival has assembled a wonderfully diverse slate. Add in the fact that they’ve curated them into separate banners like “LGBT,” “Love & Things,” “Women in Film” and “Stay Woke” alongside some great short films, and you have yourself a fest that San Fran moviegoers can’t afford to miss.

Cine+Mas: San Francisco Latino Film Festival runs September 14 – 30, 2018

Love Cecy

Jay Francisco Lopez

Ripped from the headlines, Love Cecy takes audiences back to the cholo, free-style culture of 1990s California as it retells the story of 15 year old Cecilia Rios. The film follows Rios’ promising beginnings- striving to become a lawyer while keeping her cholo boyfriend off the streets- to its tragic end on March 14, 1994, when her brutal murder was chronicled by newspapers across the country.

United States
Drama
Jay Francisco Lopez
Kenneth Medina
2017
100

Rich Kids

Laura Somers

This vibrant portrait of six troubled teenagers showcases the talents of a young charismatic cast as it explores the ongoing challenges of economic disparities, gentrification, displacement, and evictions faced through the lens of Latino and Afro-Latino American youth in South Houston. Matías is a bright teenager whose family struggles with harsh financial troubles. When he discovers “Los Ricos,” a wealthy family, are out of town, Matías breaks into their mansion where he and his friends spend an afternoon basking in the good life. The party is soon disrupted when a trouble-making relative shows up uninvited. Loyalties are pushed to the breaking point as Matías’s desire for power in the house rises.

United States
Drama
Laura Somers, David Saldaña
Laura Somers, Eddie Rodriguez
2018
97

Ruben Blades Is Not My Name

Abner Benaim

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.

Synopsis By: Kiko Martinez
Panama, Colombia, Argentina
Documentary
Abner Benaim, Gema Juarez Allen, Cristina Gallego
2018
85

El sonido de las cosas

Ariel Escalante

Dealing with grief can be a painful and solitary experience. That’s definitely the case for Claudia. She’s just lost her dear cousin and rather than face her absence, the young nurse walls herself off from the world. That is, until she runs into an old friend who’s in need of help. With a muted color palette and an equally restrained central performance El sonido de las cosas is a probing character study of what it means to lose those we are closest to.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
Costa Rica
Drama
Ariel Escalante, Enric Rufas
Mariana Murillo
2016
78

En algún lugar

Tadeo Garcia

Social worker Abel and auto mechanic Diego have waited for too long to fall in love with the right partner; not even Diego’s undocumented status can stop a relationship that was meant to be. But when word reaches Diego that his mother is dying, Abel resolves to be his partner in the truest sense of the word, accompanying him back to Mexico even though Diego will not be guaranteed re-entry to the country. What starts as a tender love story turns into a harrowing tale as both try to figure a way to cross back.

United States
Drama
Tadeo Garcia
Michael J. Sanow, Aric Jackson
2017
112

Lucas Como Sara

Day Garcia

In Havana, Lucas has a psychedelic trip to back to the 80s after snorting his mother’s ashes while on a bender. Lucas becomes his mother somehow. He believes that being trapped inside his mother’s body he must find a way to be ‘born again’ and that means having to find and ‘meet’ his father. It’s a boundary pushing road trip film full of laughs, sex, Cuban music, and trippy absurdity. Lucas just wants to figure out who he really is.

United States
Comedy, Drama
Day Garcia
Josh Wroe, Leo Buenaventura
2017
84

They Called Me King Tiger

Ángel Estrada

In 1967, Chicano leader King Tiger (born Reies Lopez Tijerina) along with armed men took over the court of Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico by force. The outcome of such bold action was the largest manhunt in recent US history. Tijerina managed to survive prison, a psychiatric hospital, and a several assassination attempts. The Chicano movement weakened, Tijerina faded away. People speak of him as a saint, an enlightened man, a man that used violence for a just cause. King Tiger is alive and he wants to tell his story.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWSkOa1Ha18

Mexico
Documentary
2017
88

Rio Verde. El tiempo de los Yakurunas

Alvaro Sarmiento, Diego Sarmiento

Guided by ayahuasca chants, Green River. The Time of the Yakurunas is a poetic journey into the depths of the Amazon. The film explores the perception of time in three small villages intertwined by the flowing waters of the Amazon river, immersing the viewer in a landscape inhabited by shamans and archetypical societies. This hybrid narrative depicts the bodies of native elders to evoke the ghosts of rubber colonialism at the end of 19th century, the memory of ancient indigenous cultures still alive, but in danger of disappearing as a consequence of global capitalism.

Peru
Documentary
Álvaro Sarmiento
Diego E. Sarmiento, Alvaro Sarmiento
2017
70

Cetáceos

Florencia Percia

Clara and Alejandro are moving to a new home, but soon he goes on a work trip and she stays alone, surrounded by closed boxes. This mess compels her to live new experiences that will lead her to question the closed and hermetic world where she lives.

Argentina
Comedy
Florencia Percia
Mercedes Cordova, Valeria Forster
2017
77

Cuban Food Stories

Asori Soto

Diverse cuisine is rarely counted among the cultural phenomena for which Cuba is celebrated; popular notions of Cuba as a placed defined by deprivation doesn’t help. A richly comprehensive remedy for this misperception, Cuban Food Stories visits every province in the country to sample a culinary legacy grounded in so much more than rice and beans.

Cuba, United States
Asori Soto
Asori Soto
2018
81