Updated 4 months ago

The best Latin American films of 2016

Let’s take a look at the list, made up of fiction feature films and documentaries. Collects raw operas and works of cinema enshrined in their countries. Nine films that reflect very political themes that are portrayed in different ways from conflicts over land in the Peruvian Amazon, through the drama of the disappeared in the Argentine dictatorship to stories of homosexual love in Chile, Mexico and Venezuela are part of this 2016 special.

This is not an Oscar’s based list but a list made of Latin American movies that showed our reality, our identity and our history during this 2016.


“La larga noche de Francisco Sanctis”, by Andrea Testa and Francisco Márquez

Andrea Testa and Francisco Márquez met while studying the direction career at the National School of Experimentation and Filmmaking (Enerc). They became partners, partners and parents of Sofia, a 2-month-old girl. It is not the only beautiful thing born of the binomial. In 2016 they premiered “La larga noche de Francisco Sanctis”, the low-cost film that received the best criticism in Argentina and which was a triumph in the independent film festival of Buenos Aires (Bafici). She was also invited to participate in the official Cannes competition. Francisco Sanctis (played by Diego Velázquez) is a middle-class administrative employee to whom the last military dictatorship (1976-1983) passes him by. One day she gets a call from an old schoolmate and they meet. Thus comes a paper with the name of two people who must be stopped and disappeared that same night. The internal conflict that is generated in Sanctis is the plot of this story based on the novel published by Humberto Costantini in 1984. The axis of the work of the writer is to do the right thing even if it has to face the powerful.


“Viejo calavera”, by Kiro Russo

Now that his father is dead, no one wants to take over Elder Mamani. Only the mine, his godfather and his grandmother's house remain. This is the story that Kiro Russo tells us. Before its release, the film had won eight international awards, including a special mention of the jury at the Locarno Festival (Switzerland) and another mention in San Sebastian. The film is a cinematic experience where the darkness of the mine merges in the room thanks to the wonderful photography of Pablo Paniagua. This allows spectators to enter not only the jaws of the mountain, but the darkest corners of the human being. There the complicities arise, the fears, the anger, the demons and the remedy to heal the wounds of the human loss. Russo's debut film is the result of hard work and talent and is part of a new generation of filmmakers who want to put Bolivia on the international scene.



“Aquarius”, by Kleber Mendonça Filho

Aquarius, the second feature by Pernambuco Kleber Mendonça Filho, has shone in 2016. His name has appeared on several lists of the best of the year and has received many positive reviews. The good road of the work began with its premiere in Cannes in May, where it was applauded and where its cast made a silent protest on the red carpet against the dismissal of the president Dilma Rousseff.

The film stars Sonia Braga, who plays Clara, a woman who at 65 years lives alone in a building facing the sea in Recife. The building is in danger of being shot down to build a new one. Clara resists peacefully as much as possible. The film took more than 356,000 viewers to Brazilian cinemas, a good average for a national title and has been distributed to more than 40 countries.



“El choque de dos mundos”, by Heidi Brandenburg and Mathew Orzel

A leader of the main indigenous organization of the Amazon faces the pressures of transnationals who want to expand their presence in the Peruvian jungle. The government of President Alan Garcia promulgates decrees to facilitate the sale of land for the extraction of minerals and hydrocarbons and indigenous organizations call for a strike until unconstitutional rules are repealed. The documentary, made over six years, includes archival images and testimonies unique to this story, which had a tragic outcome that left dozens of indigenous and police dead in June 2009. The value of the film lies in the visual quality, research and the revelations about a fact that shocked Peru. The feature film premiered at Sundance, where it won the special prize for the World Cinema jury for opera prima, and won six other awards at international festivals this year.



“Rara”, by Pepa San Martín

This debut film became a Chilean surprise that left a great memory in the international festivals. Despite being the first feature by Pepa San Martín, who before making films made theater, the film shows solidity in the portrait of a teenager about to turn 13. Sara lives in the normal doubts of her age, including how to feel about her mother's partner: another woman. This account in conservative Chile is based on the legal battle that led Judge Karen Atala to keep custody of his daughters, who were separated because of their sexual orientation. In developing the production, the director realized that in Chile there are many more cases like this. The film conquered a big part of the young audience.