Los Masters Plus
Javier Romero for Remezcla Los Masters Plus

For more than a decade, the annual Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC) has brought together the musical innovators and genre-benders at the forefront of a musical movement known simply as Latin alternative. It is a catch-all term, not a genre in itself. Some sing indie pop in Spanish while others take Latin beats like cumbia, regional Mexican music, or salsa and remix them with hip-hop, punk, electronica and everything in between.

The conference, organized by Los Angeles-based Nacional Records, took over NYC this past week and was a sweaty, sweltering marathon of acoustic showcases, electro-cumbia light shows, rainy SummerStage performances, and out-of-control dance parties. The long standing conference is a testament to the vitality of the Latino independent music scene.

Carla Morrison and Julieta Venegas
Michael Nagle for The New York Times Carla Morrison and Julieta Venegas

Although the mainstream is still catching up to this “new” musical movement, Latino filmmakers have already tapped into this vast musical resource. Aurora Guerrero, director of Mosquita y Mari, told LatinoBuzz in a previous interview that, “I’m constantly on SoundCloud or Remezcla looking to see what new music is being produced by Latino artists. I’m not interested in producing soundtracks or scores that have been recycled in U.S. Latino films throughout the years. I’m looking for music that’s cutting-edge and contemporary.” Her film, a thoughtful portrait of two teenage Chicanas living in Los Angeles, is set to the music of local ska bands, the melancholy vocals of Carla Morrison, and other genre-remixing Latino artists.

Nortec Collective
Irina Weiss for Remezcla Nortec Collective

The marriage of Latino independent music with Latino independent film seems natural. Both try to “hop borders” as Jon Pareles wrote in the New York Times and exist out of a desire to reach beyond the cultural boundaries in which they currently reside. It’s also a mutually beneficial relationship. Filmmakers deal with lower fees versus trying to license more commercial music while providing much-needed exposure to up-and-coming bands.

By happenstance Latinbeat, the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s week-long showcase of Latin American independent films, overlapped with LAMC over the weekend. It was a Lindie (a.k.a. Latino indie) takeover.

Latinbeat runs through Sunday, July 21 and there is still a ton to see. Here are the highlights.


Matías Piñeiro | 2012 | 65 mins

Wednesday, July 17 and Thursday, July 18 at 11:15am 1:45pm 4:15pm 6:45pm 9:30pm

A web of romantic intrigue and revelation is delicately unraveled in this dazzling riff on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Screening with Rosalinda (Matías Piñeiro, 2010, 43m).

Tanta Agua (So Much Water)

Ana Guevara | Leticia Jorge | 2013 | 100 mins

Filmmakers in person for Q&A. Thursday, July 18 at 8:30pm | Saturday, July 20 at 2:30pm

A divorced father’s vacation with his two children is marred by a storm that keep the three cooped up together as he desperately tries to remain enthusiastic and not let anything ruin their plans.

The Tears

Pablo Delgado Sanchez | 2012 | 66 mins

Filmmaker in person for Q&A. Thursday, July 18 at 6:30pm | Saturday, July 20 at 5:00pm

A camping trip in the woods becomes a painful but ultimately healing rite of passage for two brothers who are struggling to cope with their disturbing family environment in Sanchez’s taut, suspenseful debut feature.

Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman

Ernesto Díaz Espinoza | 2013 | 75 mins

Filmmaker in person for Q&A. Saturday, July 20 at 9:30pm | Sunday, July 21 at 8:30pm

This exuberant tribute to Peckinpah’s similarly titled 1974 film combines the plot of a Western with a video game aesthetic and structure in the story of a nerdy DJ who must undertake an action-packed mission to save his own life.

Magical Words (Breaking a Spell)

Mercedes Moncada | 2012 | 83 mins

Filmmaker in person for Q&A. Friday, July 19 at 6:30pm | Sunday, July 21 at 1:30pm

Moncada crafts a poignant and engaging personal perspective on her native Nicaragua from the 1979 Sandinista revolution through to modern times, weaving herself into the story at every historic step.

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 and Facebook.