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LatinoBuzz Asks Programmers: What Are Your Top 5 Latino Films of 2012?

Photo of Vanessa Erazo By Vanessa Erazo | SydneysBuzz December 19, 2012 at 9:30AM

A look back at 2012 reveals an undeniable fact, it has been a great year for Latino film.
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A look back at 2012 reveals an undeniable fact, it has been a great year for Latino film. Sundance started the year off strong with films like Aurora Guerrero’s sweet and tender Mosquita y Mari and Marialy Rivas’ rambunctious Joven y Alocada (Young & Wild). Gina Rodriguez broke out in Filly Brown, as a rapper who needs to make it big so she can raise money to get her mom out of jail. In the film, Jenni Rivera played the part of Filly’s mom in her first, and sadly last, movie role.

There was also a strong Latin American presence at Cannes this past summer, boasting films from Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. It might as well have been called Mexi-Cannes, with Mexican films winning awards across all main sections of the festival. Carlos Reygadas was honored as the Best Director for his controversial film Post Tenebras Lux, despite having received boos at its premiere screening. The prize for the Critics’ Week section went to Aquí y Allá (Here and There) and Después de Lucía (After Lucia) won the top prize for Un Certain Regard.

It’s been an especially favorable year for Chilean cinema. The New York Film Festival, in its 50th edition this past Fall, included three highly anticipated films by Pablo Larraín, Valeria Sarmiento, and the late Raúl Ruiz. And Chile continued to outshine the rest of the region by winning two top spots at the Festival Internacional de Nuevo Cine Latino de La Habana (the Havana Film Festival) just a few days ago. Pablo Larraín’s NO, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, won the First Coral Prize. It’s a brilliant take on the real life story of an advertising campaign that ousted General Pinochet from power during a shining moment in Chilean politics. Violeta se fue a los cielos (Violeta Went To Heaven), a biopic about internationally famous Violeta de la Parra, a Chilean singer, songwriter, and poet won the Second Prize.  

Pablo Larraín’s NO, starring Gael Garcia Bernal
Pablo Larraín’s NO, starring Gael Garcia Bernal

Whether it was at Cannes, Sundance, or countless other festivals, Latino films were winning award after award this year and even getting distribution (albeit usually in limited release). With the flurry of activity surrounding the region’s filmmaking, it can be hard to keep up with it all. Thankfully, there are professionals who get paid to keep track of what movies are receiving accolades, have the most buzz, and got picked up for distribution. LatinoBuzz went straight to the experts, film programmers, to ask, “What are your top 5 Latino films of 2012?”

Carlos Gutierrez, Co-Founder and Director of Cinema Tropical

In no particular order, a list of five Latin American films that made it to US screens in the past year (some of them are a couple of years old), which I highly recommend.

De Jueves a Domingo (Thursday Till Sunday), Director: Dominga Sotomayor, Chile
O Som ao Redor (Neighboring Sounds), Director: Kleber Mendonça Filho, Brazil
El Estudiante, Director: Santiago Mitre, Argentina
El Velador, Director: Natalia Almada, Mexico
El Lugar Más Pequeño (The Tiniest Place), Director: Tatiana Huezo, Mexico/El Salvador

Juan Caceres, Director of Programming at the New York International Latino Film Festival

Mosquita y Mari is a gorgeous film full of heart. Marialy Rivas (Director of Joven y Alocada) is an incredibly exciting new voice in Latin American cinema. She's fearless and full of love. I'm a huge fan of Lucy Mulloy (Director of Una Noche). She draws these wonderful performances from non-professional actors. A natural at using the lens to tell a story. In Las Malas Intenciones Fatima Buntinx plays the lead perfectly. Andres Wood made a beautiful film called 'Machuca', that captured the soul of Chile in the 70's and he does the same with a bio-pic of Violeta Parra, a folk singer who was a part of 'La Nueva Canción Chilena'.

Mosquita y Mari, Director: Aurora Guerrero, USA
Joven y Alocada (Young and Wild), Director: Marialy Rivas, Chile
Una Noche, Director: Lucy Mulloy, Cuba
Violeta Se Fue A Los Cielos (Violeta Went to Heaven), Director: Andrés Wood, Chile
Las Malas Intenciones (The Bad Intentions), Director: Rosario García-Montero, Perú

Christine Davila, Programming Associate at Sundance Film Festival

There are way too many Latino films and not enough coverage on American Latino films so with that -- mine are going to be strictly American Latino films.

Los Chidos, Director: Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, USA/Mexico
Mosquita y Mari, Director: Aurora Guerrero, USA
Elliot Loves, Director: Terracino, USA
Aquí y Allá (Here and There), Director: Antonio Méndez Esparza, USA/Spain/Mexico
Love, Concord, Director: Gustavo Guardado, USA

Lisa Franek, Artistic Director at the San Diego Latino Film Festival

Just 5?? That's tough! In Filly Brown, Gina Rodriguez turns in a great performance, and I expect to see more great things from her very soon. NO, I saw at Cannes, and it was fascinating, especially in contrast to Larraín's previous (amazing) films. La Hora Cero has unforgettable scenes and characters! La Mujer de Ivan has amazing acting, and I believe Maria de Los Angeles Garcia is definitely a talent to watch. Reportero is also fantastic.

La Mujer de Iván, Director: Francisca Silva, Chile
NO, Director: Pablo Larraín, Chile/France/USA
La Hora Cero, Director: Diego Velasco, Venezuela
Reportero, Director: Bernardo Ruiz, USA/Mexico
Filly Brown, Directors: Youssef Delara, Michael D. Olmos, USA

Marcela Goglio, Programmer for Latinbeat at The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Las Acacias, Director: Pablo Giorgelli, Argentina
As Cançoes (Songs), Director: Eduardo Coutinho, Brazil
Unfinished Spaces, Directors: Alyssa Nahmias & Benjamin Murray, USA
O Som ao Redor (Neighboring Sounds), Director: Kleber Mendonça Filho, Brazil
Aquí y Allá (Here and There), Director: Antonio Méndez Esparza, USA/Spain/Mexico

Pepe Vargas, Executive Director of the International Latino Cultural Center and Chicago Latino Film Festival

chines take out 2

Not an easy task to come up with 5 titles - there are so many good movies.

La Piel que Habito (The Skin I Live In)
Director: Pedro Almodóvar, Spain
Salvando al Soldado Pérez, (Saving Private Perez)
Director: Beto Gómez, Mexico
Un Cuento Chino (Chinese Take-Out)
Director: Sebastián Borensztein, Argentina/Spain
Lobos de Arga (Game of Werewolves)
Director: Juan Martínez Moreno, Spain
Mariachi Gringo
Director: Tom Gustafson, USA/Mexico

Amalia Cordova, Coordinator of the Latin American Program at the Film and Video Center of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

Granito, Director: Pamela Yates, USA/Guatemala/Spain
Desterro Guarani, Directors: Patricia Ferreira y Ariel Duarte Ortega, Brazil
Violeta Se Fue A Los Cielos (Violeta Went to Heaven), Director: Andrés Wood, Chile
5 x Favela – Agora por nós Mesmos (5 x Favela, Now by Ourselves), Directors: Manaíra Carneiro, Wagner Novais, Cacau Amaral, Rodrigo Felha, Luciano Vidigal, Cadu Barcelos, and Luciana Bezerra, Brazil
Un Cuento Chino (Chinese Take-Out), Director: Sebastián Borensztein, Argentina/Spain


Written by Juan Caceres and Vanessa Erazo, LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature on SydneysBuzz that highlights Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow @LatinoBuzz on twitter.

This article is related to: Sundance Film Festival, Latino, LatinoBuzz, Cannes Film Festival, Filly Brown, Gael García Bernal

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