SXSW 2021 Latinx Wrap Up

We had a blast enjoying this year’s virtual SXSW Film Festival! From shorts to documentaries to features and everything in between – the line up had tons to enjoy!

Check out some of our thoughts on the Latinx films we watched this year!

Credit: Documentary still from FRUITS OF LABOR)

Fruits of Labor (2021, Emily Ibañez)

This documentary follows a Mexican American teen as she juggles with graduating high school, working in the fields as a farmworker and dealing with the stress of regular ICE raids in her community. One of the most poignant aspects of this film is the ability it has to really hone in and focus on her inner turmoil. The camera has a really great grasp on how complicated her world is.

Credit: Jeremy Mackie

Language Lessons (2021, Natalie Morales)

Language Lessons uses Zoom and video chat technology to its advantage. Physical distance is a conduct for emotional connectivity. This film is filled to the brim with heart. Language Lessons follows Adam (Mark Duplass) who is gifted with Spanish Zoom Language lessons by his husband Will. After Will suddenly dies, Adam decides to continue his lessons with his teacher Cariño (Natalie Morales) and process his grief. Along the way he discovers that Cariño has a lot of sadness within herself as well, and the two learn to grow through their pain together. 

The emotional bond and platonic chemistry between the two, is the thing that makes this film shine it’s brightest and helps set it apart from other Zoom films that have been released in the past year. 

Credit: Courtesy of Bantufy Films

Ludi (2021, Edson Jean)

Ludi is a portrait of tenacity and graceful in its strength. The title character Ludi (Shein Mompremier) is a Haitian immigrant in Miami who works in care-taking. Ludi needs more money to send back home to Haiti so she takes a questionable night job from a co-worker. Her task is to take care of an old man for the night. When Ludi arrives at the location, she accidentally walks into the wrong home and ends up taking care of a hard headed aging man. The two learn to find common ground over the course of one night. This film is more about feeling rather than plot. Viewers should expect a quiet, earnest gaze into one night in the life of a Haitian immigrant in the pursuit of the American Dream. 

Credit: Soy Cubana (DP: Ivaylo Getov & Ezequiel Casares

Soy Cubana (2021, Jeremy Ungar, Ivaylo Getov)

One word to describe the documentary: joyous. The Vocal Vidas, a female singing quartet from Cuba, are renowned for their pitch perfect harmonies and rhythm. The group are invited to play a show in the United States. Their excitement is palpable. This film joins the songstresses on the journey in the US. Their excitement is palpable on screen and it is a delight to see the love they have for music when they sing.

Credit: Becky Baihui Chen

I’m Fine (Thanks For Asking) (2021, Angelique Molina, Kelley Kali)

Danny is recently widowed and a little lost. She and her young daughter are homeless, living in a tent on the side of the road in Los Angeles. Desperate to get enough money for a down payment on an apartment, we follow Danny as she roller skates up and down the city delivering food. Under the hot Angeleno sun, we can feel Danny’s fatigue and embarrassment at the situation she is in. One of the most interesting things this year is to see how the pandemic has influenced storytelling. A common thread amongst these is the search for interconnection and familiarity in the midst of hardship. In I’m Fine, this exploration is what pushes the narrative forward and keeps the viewer hooked.

Clarisse Albrecht as Emma, on the verge of a trip that’s going to change her destiny inexorably. | Credit: Point Barre

Bantú Mama (2021, Iván Herrera)

What does it mean to leave a home? What does it mean to make a home? To look for one? In Bantú Mama directed by Ivan Herrera, diaspora is explored through the intimate, poignant lens of found family.

Read our review here!

(Caption: LUCHADORAS by Paola Calvo & Patrick Jasim (c) TUMULT | Credit: Patrick Jasim)

Luchadoras (2021, Paola Calvo)

Commanding the ring with resilience and grit, Luchadoras is a documentary that finds and emphasizes power in community. Making its world premiere at SXSW, Luchadoras follows a group of luchadoras living in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. A city notorious for its high femicide rates, the documentary gives a glimpse into the ways women in Juárez reclaim their strength.

Check out our interview with the director here!

Credit: Elo Company

Executive Order (2020, Lázaro Ramos)

The strength of the film lies in its dynamic cinematography and solid performances from the main cast. There are many wonderfully composed frames, creating a sense of dimensionality and emphasizing the movement of the cast on screen.

Check out our review here!

Nuevo Rico (2021, Kristian Mercado)

Shorts are some of our favorite things to watch at film festivals and SXSW is no exception. Watching Nuevo Rico is like being immersed in a baptism of ultra vivid hues, hyper stylized animation, and a deep love for Puerto Rico.

Check out our interview with the director here!

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