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6 Latino Films To See From 2014

6 Latino Films To See From 2014

Posted by Juan Gavasa on January 02, 2015

The buzz among film enthusiasts has been building for years that some of the edgiest, most provocative and beautiful movies and documentaries are not being made in Hollywood, but rather in pockets of the USA and in nations south of the border such as Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Brazil.

The universe of Latino and Latin American cinema released to American audiences in 2014 is rich and varied and shows why there is so much excitement around the Latin cinema boom. These 10 films - many which had already won international awards before their 2014 U.S. releases -are a tiny sampling of the Latino and Latin American movies and documentaries you might catch in theaters, film festivals or through online streaming. Pass the popcorn and enjoy!

Heli

Directed by Amat Escalante

It was only a matter of time before Mexico's hellish drug wars made its way to the big screen. In Heli, love is explored under the intense pressure of crime, violence and corruption. The film surrounds the love story of a 12-year-old girl and her older boyfriend, a police officer. Amat Escalante snagged the 2013 Best Director nod from the prestigious Cannes Film Festival and he can expect a lot more awards to come for this harsh, raw, and enthralling film.

El Lugar del Hijo

Directed by Manolo Nieto

It already won the Cuban Film Festival's top honors. This gripping film tells the story of a young Uruguayan activist who returns to his family's ranch after the death of his father to sort out his family's affairs and confronts his new life as a land-owning bourgeois. Class struggle and family drama are all told in the backdrop of Latin American politics. This makes for a powerful story.

The Quispe Girls

Directed by Sebastian Sepulveda

Based on a true story, the debut of Sebastian Sepulveda will guarantee this young director international attention and praise. Three sisters, shepherds from the altiplanos of Chile, become increasingly despondent over the changing world under the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Feeling lost and lonely, they commit suicide, but not before killing their animals. The tragedy caused a stir in 1974, and revisiting this heartbreaking incident will inevitably stir old emotions in a country still healing from its brutal political past. The visuals alone of the vast Chilean mountains makes this feature a riveting experience.

Cristo Rey

Directed by Leticia Tonos

This is as close as you get to a Dominican version of Romeo and Juliet, and of course, Romeo is Haitian Dominican. It tells the story of two half brothers vying for the love of one a young woman who is the daughter of a drug kingpin. Directed by Leticia Tonos, the feature captures the drama of contemporary Dominican Republic amid a backdrop of drugs, love, corruption, beauty and violence.

Pelo Malo

Directed by Mariela Rondon

NBC News recently interviewed the Venezuelan director of the critically acclaimed feature "Pelo Malo." The film tells the story of a young boy who wants to straighten his curly mop for a school photo. This award-winning film is a powerful and nuanced exploration of Latin American racism, homophobia and political intransigence. Already a winner of juries and audiences alike, the film will continue to provoke audiences everywhere it's shown.

Birdman

Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu

There are no leading Latino actors in this film, but Oscar-nominated Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu has created a visually and musically stunning "Birdman." The visuals alone - a nod to Latin American magic realism - make this film worth seeing, as does the musical score by jazz drummer Antonio Sánchez, who recently received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Musical Score. (The film has garnered the most Golden Globe nods, including Best Movie and Best Director.) This beautiful, funny, and unusual movie tells the story of a washed-up movie star hoping to restart and reimagine his career by mounting an ambitious Broadway play. This was a movie within a play within a movie. It has awesome music, great directing and acting - and a whole lot of Oscars buzz.

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