Latino History Movies

Wednesday, April 13 by Annette Smith

If you are searching for movies that portray Latino characters in historical settings, check out these seven Latino history movies. Latinos are defined as natives of Latin America, those regions of North America that speak the romance languages, primarily Spanish and Portuguese. Traditionally, Latinos have been portrayed marginally in Hollywood films. However, this collection represents some extraordinary exceptions. Recounting key events or themes in Latino history, here are seven movies definitely worth watching.

  1. “El Cantante” is a 2006 biographical drama about the life of Hector Lavoe, a Puerto Rican man who started the salsa movement in the mid-1970s and brought the spicy dance form to the United States. Marc Anthony portrays the musical legend in this film, which also stars Jennifer Lopez.
  2. “Frida” is a 2002 biographical drama about Frida Kahlo, a real-life surrealist painter from the Latin American country of Mexico. The film depicts her crippling illness, as well as her passionate marriage to Leon Trotsky, a Russian revolutionary. Salma Hayek portrays Frida in the film.
  3. “In the Time of the Butterflies” is a 2001 crime drama inspired by a true story. It follows the events of 1960 when three Dominican sisters were assassinated for their part in an attempt to overthrow the government. The film stars Salma Hayek, Lumi Cavazos and Edward James Olmos.
  4. “Latino” is a war movie set during the period of Nicaragua’s socialist Sandinista government. The 1985 film recounts the Sandinista battle with the American-backed Contra rebels. Américo González, Robert Beltran and Annette Charles star in this Latino history film.
  5. “My Family” is a 1995 Latino-American movie with biographical overtones. It traces the history of an immigrant Latino family of Mexican origin, following three generations through their personal triumphs and tragedies. Edward James Olmos, Jimmy Smits and Esai Morales star in the film.
  6. “Selena” is a 1997 biographical film about the popular Mexican-American singer Selena. The film follows the young Tejano singer’s rise from cult status to super-stardom and depicts her untimely death at the hands of an angry fan club manager. Jennifer Lopez portrays the lovely Latino, Selena, in the film.
  7. “Sin Nombre” is an award-winning 2009 Spanish-language movie. The film’s name and story have connections to Mara Salvatrucha, a real-life transnational criminal gang. The movie centers on a Honduran teenager as she follows her dream of living in the United States. It stars Paulina Gaitan, Leonardo Alonso and Marco Antonio Aguirre.