October is the month for crisp air, leaves changing, and preparation for the spookiest day of the year. However, there’s something else going on in October in Canada; Latin American Heritage Month. Despite Canada housing about 700,000 Latin Americans according to the 2016 census, with debates that it is closer to one million, few people know about Latin American Heritage Month; and less about how to celebrate it. So here’s your chance to dive right into the appreciation of all things Lat-Am with five movies to add to your watchlist this month!
Though there’s a chance you’ve already seen this Disney hit, Coco is a must-watch as far as Latin American movies go. Inspired by the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, Coco tells the story of a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who is accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead and enlists the help of his deceased family members to get him back to his family in the Land of the Living. A fan favourite for its outstanding visuals, music and respect towards Mexican culture, this movie will have you smiling wide by the end.
Another classic, the 1997 biopic Selena is a wonderful introduction to one of the biggest stars in Mexican-American music, a star that died too soon (and no, that’s not a spoiler). With J-Lo at the forefront and countless other Lat-Am cast members, Selena is a story bound to inspire you and probably have you reaching for the tissues. With stunning music, costume design and lovable characters, it is definitely worth watching.
A lesser-known biopic but one that deserves as much attention, McFarland is the story of a high school Latino cross country team who climb their way to victory led by their coach, Jim White, an outsider with a big heart. With themes of family, friendship, perseverance and town spirit, McFarland shines a light on the accomplishments of Lat-Am people when they’re given a chance. The film shows us that Lat-Am people living in the U.S or Canada are more than just immigrants, but people with dreams that can come true.
Under the Same Moon is a film in both English and Spanish, so if you’re up for it, watch it in Spanish with subtitles and see how much you can learn. The film centers around a Mexican mother who leaves her son behind to try to find something better for them in the United States. After some time, her son decides to look for her and undergoes a journey like no other.
This list would not be complete without the masterpiece that is Alfonso Cuaron‘s Roma. Loosely based on Cuaron’s own upbringing in La Roma, a neighbourhood in Mexico City, the film tells the story of an indigenous woman working as a maid for an upper-middle class while trying to ensure a better life for her child. Winner of several accolades and plenty of praise from the Lat-Am community, Roma is bound to astound you.
If movies aren’t your thing, give The Alchemist, The Book of Unknown Americans, The House of Spirits or One Hundred Years of Solitude a read. These are all wonderful works of Lat-Am authors. And if you want to dig a little deeper, try attending some of the events that are happening around Toronto.
Whether it’s curling up with a book or attending a salsa event, immersing yourself in Latin American culture in any way this month is completely worthwhile. Even if you’re not of Latin American heritage yourself, I promise the culture has a lot to offer!