Hollywood has been aware of its diversity problem, and that goes for everything from comic-book franchises to award-show darlings.
Thankfully, institutions like the Sundance Film Festival have been making an effort to feature more diverse stories.
Of this year’s 100-plus selected films at Sundance, at least 12 are certifiably Latinx. For those counting at home, that’s less than our percentage in the general U.S. population (20 percent) but more than our percent of the world population (nine percent).
It’s also a hell of a lot more than what the entertainment industry generally produces—where Latinos make up just over five percent of lead roles.
So, without further ado, here’s a preview of the Latinx films coming to Sundance this year. May their numbers grow and multiply….
Latina stalwart Judy Reyes (Claws, Scrubs, Devious Maids) stars in this reincarnation horror film alongside Breeda Wool and Marin Ireland. Reyes plays a nurse and mother who one fateful day collides with a pathologist obsessed with bringing corpses back to life.
Birth/rebirth is in Sundance’s Midnight category, meaning it’s competing for the best spooky film at the festival. It’s sure to be a thoughtful entry in the Latinx horror genre.
Gael García Bernal stars as the titular character in what’s been dubbed the “gay wrestling movie.” Sounds interesting, right?
As Saúl Armendáriz, García Bernal plays a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso who creates the “Liberace of Lucha Libre,” a.k.a. the film’s titular character, Cassandro.
From the mind of Bolivian-American writer-director-producer Eddie Alcazar comes Divinity, part of the Sundance Film Festival’s Next category, which features films pushing the boundaries of cinematic storytelling. This black-and-white sci-fi entry includes an abduction, the search for immortality, and self-discovery.
The Eternal Memory
From the first Chilean woman to be nominated for an Oscar, Maite Alberdi, The Eternal Memory follows couple Augusto and Paulina who have been together for 25 years and are now facing Augusto’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. This melancholy documentary explores the nature of memory, intimacy, and resilience.
Going Varsity in Mariachi
This documentary film follows a set of high school students in “competitive scholastic mariachi.” Taking place in South Texas (where else?), Going Varsity in Mariachi promises amazing outfits, classic tunes, and a look into a particularly compelling Latinx subculture.
A damning critique of the Mexican military, Heroic tells the story of an 18-year-old with Indigenous roots who begins studying at the Heroic Military College in Mexico City with dreams of providing for his family and advancing through the ranks. He soon finds himself in a rigid social order, ruled by violence and plagued with moral failures.
A climate-change film about healing, La Pecera follows Noelia, whose cancer is spreading and, in response, decides to return home to her native, beautiful, and poisoned Puerto Rico. From Glorimar Marrero Sánchez, La Pecera (The Fishbowl) exposes the continuing wounds of colonization while showing Puerto Rican autonomy, grief, and grace.
Venezuelan filmmaker Patricia Ortega’s MAMACRUZ tells the story of the sexual awakening of abuela Cruz, which starts after she accidentally stumbles upon online porn. But this comedy doesn’t make her the joke, rather poking fun at the church and the limitations society places on women.
From Chilean-Serbian filmmaker Vuk Lungulov-Klotz and starring Puerto Rican-Greek actor Lío Mehiel, Mutt takes place over one busy day in main character Feña’s life. He’s a young trans Latinx man in New York, confronting how the world views, reacts to, and complicates his identity on multiple levels.
Based on true events, Radical tells the story of the difference a teacher can make, even when surrounded by violence and apathy. Eugenio Derbez stars as Sergio, a teacher who tries something different with the heavily-disciplined students of José Urbina López Elementary in Matamoros, Mexico.
Rotting in the Sun
A missing filmmaker. A social media celebrity. A cleaning lady.
These are the central characters in filmmaker and star Sebastian Silva’s dark comedy, Rotting in the Sun. Only for adult audiences, the film promises a derisive look at the entertainment industry, sex, and our culture at large.
Taking place in Chile, 1880, Sorcery follows a 13-year-old Huilliche girl, Rosa, who rejects Christianity after her father is murdered by a German colonizer. To get revenge, she begins learning brujería in this “dark decolonial fantasy” based on true events and from Chilean writer and director Christopher Murray.
A writer and activist, Cristina Escobar is the co-founder of latinamedia.co, uplifting Latina and gender non-conforming Latinx perspectives in media. She’s a member of the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association and writes at the intersection of race, gender, and pop culture. Twitter: @cescobarandrade
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