Top Latino Films of 2013

NALIP invited several writers to send us their picks for the top Latino films of 2013. These projects could have Latino producers, directors, actors, or themes; we even opened it up to other forms of media like web series, new media, music videos. 

The result is seven great lists of Latino media you won't want to miss from: Vanessa Erazo (, LatinoBuzz/IndieWire), Sergio C. Muñoz (Intelatin), Alex Mendoza (Latinos In The Industry), Daniel Loria (, Bel Hernandez (Latin Heat Media), Juan Caceres (LatinoBuzz/IndieWire), Carlos A. Gutiérrez (Cinema Tropical).

Vanessa Erazo
Film Editor at and writer for LatinoBuzz on Indiewire

It is hard to say what is the best Latino film or web series of the year so I decided to list some of my favorites across several categories but there are many, many others that I think are just as good.

Web Series:
East WillyB created by Julia Ahumada Grob and Yamin Segal (USA)

My Sister's Quinceañera directed by Aaron Douglas Johnston (USA)
Gloria directed by Sebastian Lelio (Chile)
No directed by Pablo Larrain (Chile)
Clandestine Childhood directed by Benjamin Avila (Argentina)

American Commune directed by Rena Mundo Croshere and Nadine Mundo (USA)
El Huaso directed by Carlo Guillermo Proto (Chile/Canada)
Lemon directed by Laura Brownson and Beth Levison (USA)

Music Video:
 "Hielo/ICE" performed by La Santa Cecilia -- directed by Alex Rivera (USA)

Frack U. Mexico directed by Greg Berger (Mexico/USA)

Sergio C. Muñoz
Producer and Host of The Intelatin Cloudcast on Filmcraft. Broadcasts every third Thursday of the month via Twitter: @Intelatin

For my year-end list, I have three caveats: 1) My list features three films that have nothing to do with Latinos because regardless of being a Mexican film essayist and movie lover, I am capable of watching films from all over the world. 2) If I had not developed relationships with friends at Cinema Tropical, Film Movement and Remezcla, my awareness of great films throughout the Americas would be extremely limited. 3) Due to the festival schedules of each respective film, they may not have been actually released in 2013 but they certainly got to me in southern California in the year 2013.

Amour / France / Directed by Michael Haneke / At a movie theater in West LA / A brutal character study of an aged couple coping with their eventual death. As a forty year old with elderly parents, this film forced me to analyze and prepare for my future as a son.

Pablo / Brazil / Directed by Richard Goldgewicht / On an ipad at Intelatin via Vimeo / A fun character study of a talented artist riding the highs and lows of his career in Hollywood.

No / Chile / Directed by Pablo Larraín / At the Museum of Tolerance in West LA / I enjoyed the low-fi quality of the film and the filmmaker's interpretation of the Chilean struggle. The relationship between the two partners at the advertising agency was perfectly written. 

El Estudiante / Argentina / Directed by Santiago Mitre / On an imac at Intelatin via DVD advance / This must have been the film that inspired Aaron Sorkin to make the Newsroom. His two edits: Make the dialogue less deep and more mamón and eliminate any Latinos in the cast.

Sound City / USA / Directed by Dave Grohl / On an imac at Intelatin via VHX / As a music lover, I enjoyed the backstory of this recording studio in the valley. Grohl's love of music is infectious on the audience.

In the Name Of / Poland / Directed by Malgorzata Szumowska / On an ipad at Intelatin via Vimeo / As a writer, I am constantly trying to figure out ways to go deeper into language to convey the appropriate emotion. In this film, the last scene captures so much emotion without a word being said. It brought into question all of my pre-conceived perceptions instilled in me by my society about the potential nature of the individual. 

Porcelain Horse / Ecuador / Directed by Javier Andrade / On an ipad at Intelatin via Vimeo / Sure this film is great as it is but I loved the leap from punk rock tragedy to political destiny. Filmmakers talk about making films for "millennials" but this is the only film that I have seen this year that actually accomplishes the holy grail of speaking from the perspective of youth.

Post Tenebras Lux / Mexico / Directed by Carlos Reygadas / At the HOLA Mexico Film Festival in LA / I actually do not like or understand any of Reygadas' films but they inspire me to reinterpret my tastes and my understanding of what is possible within the art of cinema. There are always scenes or landscapes in his films that envelope and inspire me as the audience.

La Sirga / Colombia / Directed by William Vega / On an imac at Intelatin via DVD advance / I loved the pace of this film. It was like the fog featured in the film which made it all the more memorable. You are able to feel the time and the place of the mysterious setting. Again, I appreciated the filmmaker's interpretation of the Colombian struggle.

Gravity / USA / Directed by Alfonso Cuarón / At an IMAX theater in Irvine / I only liked the last five minutes of the film when Sandra Bullock hits the land of the lost. I give it special mention because it should be acknowledged that Cuarón and el Chivo instantly made Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg look like mickey mouse filmmakers in terms of realistic space exploration captured on film. ¡Qué viva México!

Alex Mendoza
Editor of Latinos In The Industry
AMARTE Event Image Specialists

In no particular order:
1. Gravity
2. Justice for my Sister
3. Nosotros los Nobles
4. Instructions Not Included
5. Latinos Beyond Reel
6. 7 Cajas
7. The Bridge
8. Filly Brown
9. Tercera Llamada
10. NO

Daniel Loria
Overseas Editor,

1. Frances Ha [BRAZIL]
- Rodrigo Teixeira (Producer, RT Features)

2. Gravity [MEXICO]
- Alfonso Cuaron (Director), Emmanuel Lubezki (Cinematographer)

3. Heli [MEXICO]
4. La Jaula de Oro [MEXICO]

5. Viola [ARGENTINA]

6. No [CHILE]
7. El Alcalde [MEXICO]
8. Narco Cultura [MEXICO]
- Documentary filmed on location in Mexico, dealing with issues pertaining to Mexican culture. 

9. Gimme the Power [MEXICO]
10. La Camioneta [GUATEMALA]
- Documentary filmed on location in Guatemala, dealing with issues pertaining to Guatemalan culture.

Bel Hernandez
Bel Hernandez is an award-winning journalist and CEO of Latin Heat Media, a multi-media entertainment company; publisher of; and creator & Executive Producer HOLA! LA the first TV talk show with a Latina POV.    

Latin Heat has always made a conscious effort to promote U.S. Latino filmmakers and/or films about U.S. Latinos.  With Robert Rodriguez leading the charge since the mid 90's, he has re-invented the independent film scene the world over and has inspired many.

In that vein, films released in 2013 of note (for various reasons) were, as usual, not in abundance but the list continues to grow each year and their impact gets mightier.

Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron
Instructions No Included, Eugenio Derbez 
Bless Me Ultima, Carl Franklin
Filly Brown, Michael D. Olmos/Youseff Delara
Mission Park (AKA Line Of Duty), Bryan Ramirez
Justice for my Sister, Kimberly Bautista


Juan Caceres
Writer, LatinoBuzz/IndieWire
Producer, 'Elliot Loves' Feature Film, 'Viva La Dope' TV Pilot, 'Henry' Web Series, 'Docket 32357' Web Series. 
Dir. of Programming , New York International Latino Film Festival

Best Film: 'Gravity' by Alfonso Cuaron for achievement. We know the reality is that they couldn't have cast Latinos and get it funded but damn, Jose Hernandez was not that long ago so why is it such a stretch to have a Latino Astronaut (and not played by Ben Affleck)? 
Best Latin American Film: Hands down 'Gloria' by Sebastian Lelio. A beautiful, melancholy yet sweet love story. Paulina Garcia as 'Gloria' will steal your heart. Pure soulful filmmaking.
Best Web Series: 'East Los High' - It was groundbreaking plain and simple. Number 1 on Hulu Latino, Number 5 overall. An English language novela for teens, created, written by and starring Latinos -  It was a move that paid off. Hopefully it will open doors for other web aimed content, especially for 2nd and 3rd generation Latinos like what 'East Willy B' and 'Henry' are doing.
Best TV Show: "The Bridge" - Demian Birchir is a future Oscar winner. He's that dude. I also look forward to seeing more from Gerardo Naranjo (Miss Bala) who directed the pilot and I'm also loving Fernanda Coppel's writing on the show.
Best Music Video: Aloe Blacc 'Wake Me Up" by Alex Rivera - This video hurts your soul when you find out the 'characters' in it are actually real people who have been profoundly affected by the broken immigration system in this country. Music videos don't usually get to me emotionally like that these days.

Carlos A. Gutiérrez
Co-founder and Executive Director, Cinema Tropical

My favorite Latin American and U.S. Latino films of the year:

- AMERICAN PROMISE (Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, USA, 2013) 
- DESPUÉS DE LUCÍA (Michel Franco, Mexico, 2012)
- GLORIA (Sebastián Lelio, Chile, 2013)
- EL ALCALDE / THE MAJOR (Carlos F. Rossini, Emiliano Altuna and Diego Osorno, Mexico, 2012)
- EL OTRO DÍA / THE OTHER DAY (Ignacio Agüero, Chile,  2012)
- LOS MEJORES TEMAS / GREATEST HITS (Nicolás Pereda, Mexico, 2012)
- NO (Pablo Larraín, Chile, 2012)
- PURGATORIO (Rodrigo Reyes, US/Mexico, 2013)
- TANTA AGUA / SO MUCH WATER (Ana Guevara and Leticia Jorge, Uruguay, 2013)
- VIOLA (Matías Piñeiro, Argentina, 2012)

U.S. Latino films that I'm looking forward to in 2014: LAS MARTHAS by Cristina Ibarra, STATE OF ARIZONA by Carlos Sandoval and Catherine Tambini, and ULISES ODYSSEY by Lorena Manriquez.