Latin American Movies

Tuesday, August 9 by Mariela Del Bosque

New Latin American movies have enhanced the Latin American film industry with an emerging group of new, young, talented directors in the last few years. Their outstanding work, portraying social and personal conflicts combined with controversial subjects, have enabled Latin American movies to win several recent international awards. Other films have narrated brilliantly extravagant, playful, and witty stories. Although some Latin American movie directors have teamed up with European countries to co-finance their films, the following Latin American movies have a strong Latin American touch and are examples of the film quality arising out at this part of the world.

  1. “Nine Queens” (Nueve Reinas, Argentina, 2000). An Argentinean film that won 21 awards out of 28 award nominations. Juan, a con artist, easily scams a cashier at a gas station. Motivated by his success, he tries to repeat the trick on the second shift, but fails. A police officer arrests Juan right away, but once outside the gas station, the officer confesses to Juan that he’s not an officer, but a much more experienced con artist, who had been observing Juan cheating both times. The “officer” judges Juan to be a high potential con artist; he points out the mistakes repeated by Juan twice, suggesting that he should improve his tricking skills. The pair team up and join talents. The result is a sequence of exquisite, clever, and unexpected events that surprise every minute and keep you laughing from beginning to end. A must see Latin American film.
  2. “The Homework” (La Tarea, Mexico, 1990). A Mexican movie about Virginia, a filmmaking student who has to create a short film for homework. She hides a film camera in a corner of her living room and invites her ex-boyfriend, Marcelo, over whom she hasn’t seen in four years. She doesn’t know what to expect from this secret film experiment. Then, Virginia’s homework turns into a sexual film, full of sharp and hilarious remarks. Marcelo discovers the secret and gets irritated, but later, he agrees to help Virginia finish her homework. The ending is a total surprise. Realize that the movie has only two characters and both remain in the same space most of the film. “The Homework” won an honorable mention at the International Film Festival in Moscow in 1991, and was adapted into a successful play in Mexico. This Latin American film is for adult audiences, due to the nudity scenes.
  3. “Milk of sorrow” (Peru-Spain, 2009). A Golden Bear Award winner at The Berlin International Film Festival and a nominee for Best Foreign Language film at the 82nd Academy Awards, Literally translates as “The Scared Breast.” Fausta is a young girl who is the product of a rape during the time Peru lived through its terrors. Fausta’s mother has lived a miserable life, but she has tried to fight back against the desolation that she was forced to endure. Fausta’s life is just as wretched;  she’s convinced that she has contracted a strange illness, called the “Milk of Sorrow.” According to her, this illness is transmitted through a mother’s breast milk, particularly from raped or abused women. This film, full of clever symbolism, shows Fausta living a harder day, and harder life each day. In the end, Fausta finds a little light in her life, but is not the kind of light that someone might wish for her. A life full of difficulties still awaits her, but Fausta has gained strength, and she can definitely chose to live a better life.   
  4. Waste Land” (Brazil- UK, 2010).  An inspiring documentary-movie where Vik Muniz, a successful world renowned Brazilian photographer living in Brooklyn, invests three years of his life moving to the world’s largest garbage dump in his native Brazil. His sole purpose is to help the poor people in his country by uniting art and the work of the self-designated “pickers of recyclable materials.” In the beginning, Muniz doesn’t know what the result of this art experiment will be, but this real life event combines creativity and the best human qualities to definitely achieve a very powerful force that can truly change human lives.