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The best Latin American films of 2017

South and Central American filmmakers continue to direct and produce some of the finest movies. You can expect exciting, thought-provoking films topped with beautiful cinematography. It’s been difficult to pick from such a wealth of talent, but here’s our pick of the best films of 2017.

Loving Pablo

Director: Fernando León de Aranoa

With the massive success of the TV series Narcos, the fascination with the enigmatic Pablo Escobar continues to grow. Loving Pablo is based on the book by Escobar’s mistress Virginia Vallejo and explores the rise and fall of the drug lord from a different perspective. After the TV journalist meets Escobar, she quickly falls for his charm and charisma, but this is short lived as she begins to understand the destructive side of the cocaine kingpin.

Una mujer fantástica

Director: Sebastían Lelio

Una Mujer Fantástica (A Fantastic Woman) follows the story of Marina, a transgender woman whose boyfriend accidently dies when having an aneurism and falling down the stairs. After taking him to hospital, she tries to flee the glare of his family who disapprove of their relationship, but is forced to clear her name and regain respect when accusations are brought to her by a detective from the Sexual Offenses Investigation Unit.

Cocaine Prison

Director: Violeta Ayala

Two Bolivian teenagers are drawn into the drug trade with the promise of money which they want to use to start a band. After being caught smuggling 2 kilos of cocaine across the border, they’re sent to the infamous San Sebastian. With few guards in the open-air prison, it’s run by the inmates. The film follows the struggle of the two teenagers who desperately look for a way to shorten their sentence against all odds. Interestingly, the film was created by giving the cameras to real prisoners, offering a unique perspective into their world.


Director: Lucrecia Martel  

Zama transports viewers back to the lives of those in 18th century South America. It follows the story of Don Diego de Zama, a government clerk who lives in what is now Paraguay. The film follows the strained relationship with the other European colonists and the indigenous people. The lack of contact with his wife and children leads Zama to become increasingly paranoid and hostile.

Sergio & Serguéi

Director: Ernesto Daranas Serrano

While much is known about the dissolution of the Soviet Union, far few know about the impact this had on Cuba. Much of the Caribbean Island’s economic support came from the USSR, and its loss hit the country hard. Sergio & Serguéi follows the story of the cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev who spent 4 months longer than expected in orbit while his country went through its turbulent time. Sergio is an amateur radio operator in Cuba who develops an unlikely friendship which leads to profound consequences.

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Our pick of 2016 Latin America films


The story of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda who becomes a fugitive in his own country after joining the Communist Party in the late 1940s. Stars Gael García Bernal, Luis Gnecco and Alfredo Castro.

IMDB rating: 7.4

Sr. Pig

An elderly American pig farmer hits the road to Mexico to meet up with his estranged daughter after his health begins to fail. Featured at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Stars Diego Luna and Augusto Mendoza.

IMDB rating: 5.9

Much Ado About Nothing

Featured at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival, Much Ado About Nothing (Aquí no ha pasado nada) is a Chilean drama inspired by a real life political scandal about the son of a Senator who was acquitted after killing a man in a hit and run. Stars Agustín Silva, Paulina García and Daniel Alcaíno.

IMDB rating: 6.8

Between Sea and Land

The story of 28-year-old bedbound Alberto who’s dream is to visit the Caribbean sea and the people around him that make it a reality. Awarded the Audience Award and two Best Acting Awards at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Stars Jorge Cao, Manolo Cruz and Vicky Hernández.

IMDB rating: 7.3

When Two Worlds Collide

A documentary that follows an indigenous environmental activist takes on the large businesses that are destroying the Amazon.

IMDB rating: 7.9

Don’t Call Me Son

A Brazilian drama about a young man who discovers he was kidnapped as a child and the mother who brought him up isn’t his parent. Stars Naomi Nero, Daniel Botelho and Dani Nefussi.

IMDB rating: 7.1

The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis

Office clerk Francisco Sanctis and his family live in Buenos Aires during the military dictatorship in the 70s. After being called by an old friend, Francisco has to decide to risk everything he has for two strangers. Stars Diego Velázquez, Laura Paredes and Valeria Lois.

IMDB rating: 6.6

The Tenth Man

After years away, Ariel returns to Buenos Aires to reconnect with his father and meets a women who forces him to come to grips with the reasons that divided him and his father. Stars Alan Sabbagh, Julieta Zylberberg and Usher Barilka

IMDB rating: 6

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RELATED: Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin America

The best drone footage of Latin America

Aerial footage from drones is fast becoming the most creative way to make short travel films. Capturing Latin America’s diverse landscapes, iconic monuments and natural wonders up close and from above adds a new perspective not seen in more tradition handheld camera films. Here are some of the best drone films from Latin America.


Iguazu – Argentina, Brazil

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro – Brazil


Whale watching, Baja California – Mexico

Patagonia – Chile, Argentina

Galapagos – Ecuador

Easter Island – Chile

Orcas, Valdes Peninsula – Argentina


Costa Rica

Panama City – Panama

South America

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RELATED: Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin America

Film Review: Wild Tales

Wild Tales

Pedro Almodóvar presents Wild Tales, a series of six fables exploring the most extreme effects of the stresses of modern day. It starts on board a domestic flight in Argentina. Passengers begin to realise that they have been duped onto the flight with the lure of a free ticket given by a man that each has wronged in some way. A horrific end awaits that unfortunately mirrors the tragic events in the Alps earlier in the year. A further five vignettes follow, all running along the same themes of personal breakdown, revenge, violence and a struggle to stay in control. Darkly comic and thoroughly enjoyable throughout.

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12 Classic Films Set In Latin America You Have To Watch At Least Once

1. Diarios De Motocicleta  / The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

The Motorcycle Diaries follows the account of the young Che Guevara before he became a Marxist revolutionary. With his friend Alberto Granado, they travelled over 8,000km through Argentina, Chile and Peru, some of which was on a 1939 Norton 500cc called The Mighty One.

2. Cidade de Deus / City of God (2002)

City of God tells the story of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro between the 60s and 80s. A number of storylines intertwine including that of a young man called Rocket whose dream to become a photographer comes true when he begins supplying a newspaper with photos of criminal activity in the favelas.

3. Mi Mejor  Enemigo / My Best Enemy (2005)

My Best Enemy is set in the 1979 Beagle conflict between Chile and Argentina. Two small patrol units from both sides who have become lost in the Patagonian steppes begin interacting with each other whilst searching for the border.

4. Fitzcarraldo (1982)

Fitzcarraldo is based on the true story of an Irish adventurer in the early 20th century who tries to access rubber in a hidden valley in the Amazon. His outlandish plan involved hauling a boat from one river to another with grave consequences.

5. Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972)

Aguirre, Wrath of God is West German film loosely based on a conquistador’s search of el dorado in between the Andes and Amazon in what is now known as Peru.  The film’s opening sequence shot of armour-clad Spaniards on the side of Huayna Picchu is breathtaking.

6. Amores Perros (2000)

Amores Perros is often referred to as the ‘Mexican Pulp Fiction’. Three different stories become intertwined and connected by a car crash in Mexico City. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in the year of its release.

7. María Llena Eres De Gracia / Maria Full of Grace (2004)

Maria Full of Grace is the story of a Colombian teenager who, after becoming pregnant, takes the risky decision of becoming a heroin drug mule and flying to New York.

8. The Mission (1986)

The Mission is a British drama about a Jesuit missionary in South America during the 18th century whose aim was to convert the local Guaraní community to Christianity. Set with the mighty Iguazú falls as the backdrop and starring Robert de Niro, this is a must for any film fan.

9. Tropa de Elite / Elite Squad (2007)

Elite Squad semi-fictional account of the highly trained BOPE police squad whose dangerous job is  to clean up the crime ridden streets of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas and a captains search for a replacement for his job. The film also has an excellent sequel – Elite Squad: The Enemy Within which was released in 2010.

10. Frida (2002)

Frida is the biography of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, her tangled relationships including her affair with the Marxist revolutionary and theorist Leon Trotsky, political stance, illness and of course, her art. The film stars Salma Hayek.

11. No (2012)

After coming under international pressure, Augusto Pinochet is forced to call a referendum on his Chilean presidency. The ‘No’ campaigners enlist the help of Rene Saavedra, an advertising executive, to help create a plan to win the election.

12. The Galapagos Affair (2014)

This recent full length documentary tells of the mysterious goings on amongst the first inhabitants of Floreana Island in the Galapagos. Using rare archive footage and interviews with the islanders today it tells of the murder and disappearances that remain a riddle to this day. Cate Blanchett narrates.

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RELATED: The best Latin American films of 2017