As scholars of Latin America and the Iberian world, sometimes living in central Texas can be a burden. We don’t have the same resources and community as we would in a larger metropolis like New York – or even Houston for that matter. Not to mention the city’s general elision of the Hispanic population spatially and culturally.
But every so often, Austin steps out of its provincial shoes.
For over twenty years, Cine Las Americas has been bringing Latin American film to the Texas capital. At first only a retrospective, CLA now brings over 140 contemporary films from all over the Americas and beyond to Austin theaters. Their repertoire now includes not just films by or about Latin Americans, but also indigenous communities throughout the two continents, and the caliber of films continues to rise each year.
Even if you had a week completely free this time of year (which no one working or studying at a university does), it would be impossible to see all 140-something movies. So, in the spirit of the internet’s love of lists, I’ve compiled one of my own.
I’ve split it up into the six features and four documentaries, so it’s not actually a top ten list, but the internet will forgive me. I’ll keep my descriptions short, as the CLA website has better synopses than I could give here.
Top Ten Films to See at Cine Las Americas this year
- Mujer Conejo – Film and animation interwoven to tell a story about immigration in Argentina, the Chinese mafia, and genetically-mutated rabbits.
- Las niñas Quispe – A harrowing tale of three shepherdess sisters in the Chilean altiplan whose way of life is threatened.
- O menino e o mundo – A fantastical animation of a boy’s journey outside of his village.
- Pelo malo – A boy wants to straighten his hair to look like a pop star. His mother begins to worry about his sexuality. Their relationship grows more tense, and eventually is pushed to the breaking point.
- Nena, salúdame al Diego – The mother is the head of a Venezuelan media channel and decides her daughter will be the new face of the country. Her daughter has, meanwhile, declared herself Argentine and plans to re-patriate there
- Barroco – A visually striking tale of an apocalyptic photo book and a boy’s fall into chaos.
- Diplomacia secreta – The story of the Finnish consulate in Chile during the dictatorship of Pinochet, told by the son of one of the diplomats who worked there.
- Atempa – sueños a orillo del río – This documentary follows the life of the muxe – men who take on feminine roles culturally and sexually – on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca.
- Las Marthas – On the border town of Laredo, Texas, the annual debutante ball involves a tradition in which the girls recreate a party hosted by Martha Washington.
- Miradas múltiples: La máquina loca – A cinephile’s film, this movie pairs interviews with contemporary cinematographers with images from Gabriel Figeroa’s films.