September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month, which celebrates the histories, cultures, and contributions of Hispanic Americans. What would America look like without legendary athletes like Roberto Clemente or political badasses like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or hypnotic entertainers like Shakira? Hopefully, we will never find out. This month, let’s remind our Hispanic-American citizens just how integral and valued they are by celebrating their stories and the stories of their ancestors. Get to some larger-than-life big-screen characters, hear real-life stories from immigrants, and see what life is like in various Spanish-speaking countries around the globe. Here are 12 titles to watch for National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Argentine director Lucrecia Martel is widely regarded as one of the most important Spanish-language filmmakers in the world, and arguably one of the most important filmmakers alive today. This intimate documentary invites viewers into a rare up-close-and-personal look at her creative process. Following the making of her feature, “Zama,” the film exposes Martel’s many layers as a director as well as the many layers of the filmmaking process in general. It’s a true film lover’s film.
When a linguist travels to a remote jungle in Mexico to record a disappearing language, he finds, to his dismay, that the last two people who speak it are not...speaking to each other. In trying to save the Zikril language, he tries to mediate a reconciliation between the two old friends, but in learning about their falling-out 50 years ago and the history of the jungle, he discovers a secret that could spell the end of his mission. Winner of the 2016 Sundance Audience Award: World Cinematic Drama.
In the US, there are more than half a million DACA recipients, whose uncertain legal statuses put their entire futures up in the air. Meet five immigrants who share how their expired DACA would impact their lives, hope, and dreams. For some, it could mean splitting their families up, and for others it means working harder and making the best of their time left.
When Trump won the 2016 presidential election, America was brimming with mixed emotions. But what about Mexico, a country that has been a frequent target of his ire? This short doc captures an entire nation’s sense of unease and dread with Mexican media clips hauntingly juxtaposed with long lines of cars waiting to cross the Mexico-US border.
An experimental film that cleverly challenges conventional format and storytelling, Argentine director Eduardo Williams’ “The Human Surge” is like an epic dream that takes the dreamer all around the world. The film follows a young man from Buenos Aires to a boy in Mozambique, who then follows a boy into the heart of the jungle, who comes across a Filipino man who is about to return home. Equally surreal and formless, it’s a film that lets your mind wander.
Maravilla is about so much more than handball. The famed handball courts in East LA have provided an outlet for healthy exercise for nearly a century, but they also represent a rich and vibrant community. Spanning back to 1928, Maravilla has become a sacred site for its members and upholds generations of the neighborhood’s Chicano heritage. As longtime member Amanda Perez says, “It’s a place where you can say, ‘This is us.’ And that means more to me than anything.”
In this Chilean dramedy, Raquel might be the maid, but she’s practically the head of the house. Working for the same wealthy family for 23 years has made her part of the family, but like all families, that means inevitable feuds with certain members. What’s worse, the family matriarch hires an assistant to help Raquel, which sends her down a spiral of jealousy and ruthlessness as she desperately clings onto her station in the house.
“Summer 1993” is a perfect snapshot of a young girl finding her way around an adult world. When 6-year-old Frida’s parents pass away, she moves from her Barcelona apartment to the Spanish countryside to live with her aunt, uncle, and younger cousin. The lush, green, sun-dappled scenery provides the perfect backdrop for childlike self-reflection, life-changing discoveries, and the magic of being a kid.
This heartbreaking docuseries is even more so in light of the Trump administration’s blatant anti-immigrant policies. Four migrant children being held at a shelter in Tijuana talk about the lives they imagine are awaiting them in the US. They talk about being good students and pursuing their artistic dreams, but the most memorable line is when 8-year-old Santos asks Trump not to kick him out because he promises not to do anything bad.
A gritty romantic comedy, a redemption story, and a glimpse into what urban life is like in Buenos Aires. Down-on-his-luck failed screenwriter Luciano realizes his luck might change when he gets a visit from his old friend and his beautiful girlfriend. The only thing standing in his way? Blatant betrayal. But when his friend is the star of a popular show in Spain and he’s a struggling children’s entertainer, would his betrayal be justified?
In this Spanish short film, a man from the future agrees to participate in a time travel experiment, but an unforeseen glitch disintegrated his body and he’s forced to wear his space suit to keep himself from scattering all over the universe. And another hiccup left him stuck on present-day Earth, 100 years before the experiment and its scientists will come into existence. While he’s there, he might as well help out around the house.
Fireworks, explosions, papier-mâché bulls, more fireworks. For 10 debaucherous days, the town of Tultepec, Mexico becomes engulfed in flames for its annual National Pyrotechnic Festival. In celebration of San Juan de Dios, the patron saint of fireworks makers, and the town’s generations-old way of life, the festival features firework displays, large-scale sculptures, and other pyrotechnic creations by artisans who are just as technically mastered as Renaissance painters—their medium of choice just happens to be fire.