Documentary film helps explore worlds and audiences that would have not otherwise been connected. It’s a powerful tool and as such, we had a great time viewing some of the Latinx films during the 2021 HotDocs Film Festival — a festival dedicated to documentary film.
Here are a few thoughts on some of the films that we saw and loved!
La Madrina: The Savage Life of Lorine Padilla (2020, dir by Raquel Cepeda)
La Madrina is an insightful look into the life and lasting influence that Lorine Padilla has had over her community in the South Bronx. Lorine is a former member and “First Lady” of the Savage Skulls gang and a devoted activist.
Lorine’s distinctive personality commands the screen and her loyalty to the ones she loves is the fierce heartbeat that drives the documentary forward. The footage flutters between the past and present, connecting visuals of the changing neighborhood, emphasizing the difference that only a couple of decades can make.
Gaucho Americano (2021, dir by Nicolás Molina)
Gaucho Americano is a scenic slice of life look into the lives of a pair of Chilean gauchos. The two work as sheep farmers in the US. The job is steeped in isolation and the film highlights the solitude by having the camera linger in nature. The viewer can feel the vastness and isolation of the countryside. While it is picturesque, it feels like for these men, it is very far from home. From language barriers with American farmers to communicating with family back home through staticky phone calls — the lonesomeness of the gauchos sticks throughout the film as a sign of strength and wistfulness.
The Spokeswoman (2020, Luciana Kaplan)
La Vocera (The Last Spokeswoman) immerses the viewer into the 2018 Mexican presidential run of Maria de Jesús Patricio, known as Marichuy. Marichuy is the first Indigenous woman to apply to run for president in Mexico. While the film follows her campaign, it goes beyond that. At its core it’s a story about the continued resilience of the Indigenous people in Mexico. La Vocera displays the strength and the power that community has in persistence, resistance and unity in a society that is determined to cast them aside.
The Last Forest (2021, Luiz Bolognesi)
Part documentary and part retelling, A Última Floresta (The Last Forest), directed by Luiz Bolognesi follows Davi Kopenawa, a Yanomami shaman in the jungles of the Brazilian-Venezuelan border region. In the face of adversity and danger, Davi tries to keep the spirits of the forest and tradition alive.
Check out our interview with the director here!
Nothing But the Sun (2020, Arami Ullón)
Poetic and moving, this film is an intimate portrait at the continued effects of colonization in Latin America. Nothing But the Sun follows Mateo who travels in between indigenous communities in Paraguay to record their history. Armed with only a tape recorder, Mateo records songs, stories, and more from quickly dwindling populations.
Are you a Spanishh speaker? Read our interview here!