5 Movies to Watch During Hispanic Heritage Month

This past year has been especially difficult for our Hispanic/Latino communities as the current administration jeopardizes our sense of American patriotism and threatens to kick us out of our homes here in the United States. Even though our communities are facing immense pressure from elected leaders, the one thing we can always rely on as Latinos is our pride.

One way to commemorate some of this pride is to celebrate the works of Latino/Hispanic filmmakers. Films are an essential artifact to every culture that highlight both the wonders and the flaws in our societies.

While it’s important to watch movies about the overt struggle that immigrants face when they migrate to the U.S., legally or illegally, it is also important to see Latinos in films that remind everyone that we are people too. We also face hardships of love and friendship. We also face adversity in the LGBTQ communities in our native countries. We also have tales of family secrets that can be told without the exploitative storylines of narco trafficking that have plagued the depiction of Latinos as delinquents for decades.

Hispanic Heritage Month should be about embracing everything Latino America and Spain has to offer and that includes these great movies.


  1. Y Tu Mamá También - Directed by Alfonso Cuarón


Y Tu Mamá También roughly translates to “your mom” which perfectly describes the caliber of friendship between two teenage boys in Mexico. This film stars Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna and Maribel Verdu in a road movie that turns into an exploration of Mexico’s hidden seaside villages and local bars that help these three friends get lost in a world of their own. Alfonso Cuarón who is also known for his work on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Amores Perros, delves into this movie by challenging machismo and relationships, all while painting a portrait of rural Mexico juxtaposed to the city life that the boys live in.


      2. Embrace of the Serpent – Directed by Ciro Guerra


This film by Ciro Guerra tells the story of a shaman in search of a healing plant by way of western colonialism that magnifies the indigenous people of Colombia’s Amazon. The magical realism of this film creates an experience that can only be told as a folk tale that travels through the Amazonian jungle of Colombia’s beautiful terrain and the people that inhabit it. As the story always seems to go, these native cultures are later devastated by the foundations of colonialism.


     3. A Fantastic Woman – Directed by Sebastián Lelio


The overwhelming feat of grief and the plight of self-identity are entwined in a beautiful story about a transgender woman whose boyfriend unexpectedly passes away, on her birthday of all days. This Chilean drama directed by Sebastián Lelio is a story of struggle through trauma as the main character has to fight for who she is and who she wants to mourn for as a transgender woman in the face of great opposition from the world around her.  


     4. Memories of Underdevelopment – Directed by Tomas Gutierrez Alea


In midst of Castro’s revolution following the Bay of Pigs, a man is left alone following the departure of his family and friends and is faced with the insatiable need for another woman’s company along with the aspirations of a better future for Cuba; this venture comes at a great cost.  This film captures the internal crisis of conflict in Cuba during the Cold War through one man’s ambiguous hope that change will come by good merits despite the trepidations of an authoritarian regime.


     5. Volver – Directed by Pedro Almodóvar 


World renowned director Pedro Almodóvar’s Volver is a film that transcends dreams and reality in a story about a family that has been victim to the brutality of men. Volver is led by Penélope Cruz whose performance in this movie is magical and tragic and will leave you no choice but to fall in love with her character as a resilient mother who will do anything to protect the safe-hood of her child. Volver is a beautiful film about mothers and daughters and sisters and the inseparable bond of womanhood in the melodrama that is Spanish cinema.