TOP LATINO MOTION PICTURES

TOP LATINO MOTION PICTURES
Latinopia defines Latino motion pictures as those movies having to do with the Latin American experience written, produced and or directed by people from Central America, South America, North America or the Caribbean. These movies are works ‘by’, ‘about’ or ‘for’ the Latino community in the United States that have remained in our cultural memory.

For these films to be considered memorable, however, they must have remained popular for at least a decade. This goes to show how popular and relevant they have remained throughout the years after their release. Although noteworthy, such films as Leon Ichaso’s “El Cantante” (2006) and Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006) are not included since it has not been 10 years since their release. Here is Latinopia’s pick of TOP LATINO MOTION PICTURES.
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Please Don’t Bury Me Alive (1976)

CAST:
Efrain Gutiérrez
Josefina Paz
David Moss
Abel Franco
Oscar Escamilla
José Armando de Hoyos

Director
Efrain Gutiérrez

Writer
Sabino Garza

Don't Buyr Me Alive posterSummary: This slice of life drama follows the protagonist, Alejandro Hernandez, played by the film’s director Efrain Gutiérrez, as he buries his brother who was killed in Vietnam. Thereafter, Alejandro falls into a spiral of petty crime eventually being set up by an undercover police officer and arrested for heroin possession. The film examines the unjust ways in which Chicanos are dealt justice in Texas society. Alejandro is eventually sentenced to a 10-year prison term by the same judge that presided over the funeral of Alejandro’s brother. Touted as the first Chicano feature film, Please Don’t Bury Me Alive was made on a budget of $60,000 but made back more than $300,000 when it was four-walled in Texas. Particularly notable is the fact that the film broke the monopoly that Spanish language cinema had on the Southwest’s Spanish surnamed audiences.

 

Raices de Sangre (1979)

CAST:

Richard Yniguez (Carlos)
Leon Singer (Rogelio)
Roxanna Bonilla-Gianini (Lupe)
Enrique Muñoz (Adolfo)
Pepe Serna (Juan)
Adriana Rojo (Rosa)

Director
Jesús Salvador Treviño

Writer
Jesús Salvador Treviño

Raices De Sangre posterSummary: Mexican immigrants suffer exploitation and discrimination in a clothes factory operating on both sides of the border. A young Chicano lawyer Carlos Rivera (Richard Yniguez) arrives in town to aid his uncle Rogelio (Leon Singer) and the struggling workers at the Barrio Unido Community Center. Rivera meets Lupe Carillo (Roxanna Bonilla) a young activist at the Community Center and soon falls in love. Rivera is torn between his duty to his uncle and the workers and his own selfish desires for Lupe and to remain detached from the cause. Lupe implores Carlos help the Chicano movement and he resists until a terrible crime is committed. Intercut with the action on the U.S. side of the border is the story of an immigrant family (Adolfo and Rosa) who decide to cross into the United States illegally with dire consequences.

Zootsuit (1981)

Cast
Daniel Valdez (Henry Reyna)
Edward James Olmos (El Pachuco)
Charles Aidman (George Shearer)
John Anderson (Judge F.W. Charles)

Director
Luis Valdez

Writer
Luis Valdez

Producers
Peter Burrell
Kenneth Brecher
William P. Wingate

Zoot Zui t PosterSummary: Zoot Suit is the film version of Luis Valdez’s critically acclaimed play, based on the actual Sleepy Lagoon murder case and the zoot suit riots of 1940s Los Angeles. Henry Reyna (Daniel Valdez) is the leader of a group of Mexican-Americans being sent to San Quentin without substantial evidence for the death of a man at Sleepy Lagoon. As part of the defense committee, Alice Bloomfield and George Shearer fight the blatant miscarriage of justice for the freedom of Henry and his friends. Edward James Olmos plays “El Pachuco,” a mythic apparition who serves as narrator and Henry’s conscience. Zootsuit was groundbreaking for it’s time and was one of the first Latino films to have large-scale success in mainstream America.

Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982)

Cast
Edward James Olmos (Gregorio Cortez)
James Gammon (Seriff Frank Fly)
Tom Bower (Boone Choate)

Director
Robert M. Young

Writers
Americo Paredes
Victor Villaseñor
Robert M. Young

Producers
Moctesuma Esparza
Michael Hausman

Gregorio Cortez posterSummary: Based on the classic corrido (ballad) of Gregorio Cortez, the film retells the story of an incident in Gonzales, Texas in 1901 involving a stolen horse, mistaken identity and a killing. At a time when Texas justice toward Mexicans was often arbitrarily meted out by the Texas Rangers, the incident involving Gregorio Cortez was notable because he fought back, “with a pistol in his hand.” This important film that teaches us about racism, assumptions, and what can happen in a bias society.

El Norte (1983)

Cast

Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez (Rosa Xuncax)
David Villalpando (Enrique Xuncax)
Ernesto Gómez Cruz (Arturo Xuncax)

Director
Gregory Nava

Writers
Gregory Nava
Anna Thomas

Producer
Trevor Black
Bertha Navarro
Anna Thomas

El Norte PosterSummary: Mayan Indian peasants, tired of being thought of as cheap labor, organize in an effort to improve their lot in life. They are soon discovered by the Guatemalan army which destroys their village and family. A brother and sister, teenagers who just barely escaped the massacre, decide they must flee to “El Norte,” the United States. After receiving clandestine help from friends and advice from a veteran immigrant on strategies for traveling through Mexico, they make their way by truck, bus and other means to Los Angeles, where they try to make a new life as young, uneducated, and illegal immigrants. This film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.

Crossover Dreams (1985)

Cast

Rubén Blades (Rudy Veloz)
Shawn Elliott (Orlando)
Tom Signorelli (Lou Rose)
Elizabeth Peña (Liz Garcia)

Director
Leon Ichaso

Writer
Manuel Arce
Leon Ichaso

Producer
Manuel Arce

Crossover Dreams posterSummary:  Ruben Blades plays the lead role in this salsa drama shot in Spanish Harlem for a reputed $600,000. Blades portrays Rudy Veloz, a salsa musician driven by a dream to escape the obscurity of one-night stand sat anonymous Latino bars and “cross-over” into becoming a mainstream star.  Elizabeth Pena plays his loyal girlfriend, Liz.  A record producer recognizes Rudy’s talent and produces a single which becomes a hit. Unfortunately,  Rudy’s overnight success goes to his head. Imagining that success has finally arrived, he drops his girlfriend and manager but soon discovers that success is a fleeting thing in this tragic story of self-discovery.

La Bamba (1987)

Cast

Lou Diamond Phillips (Ritchie Valens)
Esai Morales (Bob Morales )
Rosanna DeSoto (Connie Valenzuela)
Elizabeth Peña (Rosie Morales)

Director
Luis Valdez

Writer
Luis Valdez

ProducerAdd an Image
Bill Borden
Taylor Hackford

La Bamba PosterSummary: A film based on the true story of Ritchie Valens (Lou Diamond Phillips) a young rock & roll singer of the 1950’s on his way to international superstardom. The film follows Ritchie from his days in Pacoima, California where he and his family make a meager living working at plantations. Soon Ritchie’s talents catapult him to a dramatic rise which only incites his older brother Bob’s jealousy. This film interweaves Richie’s battles at home and on the stage with his nascent relationship with Donna, his girlfriend. “La Bamba” is one of the most popular and highest grossing Latino films of all time.

The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)

Cast

Rubén Blades (Sheriff Bernabe Montoya )
Richard Bradford (Ladd Devine)
Sonia Braga (Ruby Archuleta)
Melanie Griffith (Flossie Devine)

Director
Robert Redford

Writer
John Nichols

Producer
Moctesuma Esparza
Robert Redford

Milagro beanfield posterSummary: In Milagro, a small town in the American Southwest, Ladd Devine (Richard Bradford) plans to build a major new resort development. While activist Ruby Archuleta (Sonia Braga) and lawyer/newspaper editor Charlie Bloom realize that this will result in the eventual displacement of the local Latino farmers. Their efforts to arouse opposition fail because of the short term opportunities offered by construction jobs. But when Joe Mondragon illegally diverts water to irrigate his bean field, the local people support him because of their resentment of water use laws that favor the rich like Devine. When the Governor sends in ruthless troubleshooter Kyril Montana to settle things quickly before the lucrative development is canceled, a small war threatens to erupt.

Stand and Deliver (1988)

Cast

Mark Eliot (Tito)
Edward James Olmos (Jaime A. Escalante)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Angel Guzman)
Andy Garcia (Dr. Ramirez)

Director
Ramón Menéndez

Writer
Ramón Menéndez
Tom Musca

Producer
Tom Musca

Stand And Deliver posterSummary: Edward James Olmos’s Oscar-nominated performance of the true-life story of Los Angeles high school teacher Jaime Escalante who drives his students on to excellence at calculus. When it comes time to take quallifying SAT exams for college, The students are falsely accused of cheating by the Education Testing Service. A critically acclaimed and highly lauded film, “Stand and Delivery” spoke to a new generation of Latino’s in the U.S. acculturating to new realities.

American Me (1992)

Cast

Edward James Olmos (Montoya Santana)
Sal Lopez (Pedro Santana)
Vira Montes (Esperanza Santana)
Roberto Martin Marquez (Acha)
Dyana Ortelli (Yolanda)

Director
Edward James Olmos

Writer
Floyd Mutrux

Producer
Sean Daniel
Edward James Olmos
Robert M. Young

American Me posterSummary: This epic depiction of thirty years of Chicano gang life in Los Angeles focuses on a teen named Santana who, with his friends Mundo and J.D., form their own gang and are soon arrested for a break-in. Santana gets into trouble again and goes straight from reform school to prison, spending eighteen year there, and becoming leader of a powerful gang, an avatar for the real life Mexican Mafia prison gang, both inside and outside the prison. When he is finally released, Santana tries to make sense of the violence in his life, in a world much changed from when last he was in it. “American Me” showed a different perspective of Latino life in U.S., that of the second-generation Latino caught between two worlds

El Mariachi (1992)

Cast

Carlos Gallardo (El Mariachi)
Consuelo Gómez (Domino)
Jaime de Hoyos (Bigoton)

Director
Robert Rodriguez

Writer
Robert Rodriguez

Producer
Carlos Gallardo
Robert Rodriguez

EL Mariachi posterSummary: American crime lord, Moco, has set up a lucrative business in Mexico. He tries to rub out his imprisoned employee Azul. However, Azul overcomes the hit-men and escapes. Meanwhile, a wandering mariachi comes to the same town looking for work. As Azul’s trademark is his guitar case filled with weapons, the Mariachi is mistaken for him and finds himself a hunted man. An action packed film which was made with a reputed budget of $7,000 by writer, director, editor, cinematographer and all around auteur Robert Rodriguez.

And The Earth Did Not Swallow Him (1994)

Cast

Jose Alcala (Marcos Gonzales)
Rose Portillo (Florentina Gonzales)
Marco Rodriguez (Joaquin Gonzales)
Lupe Ontiveros (Dona Rosa)

Director
Severo Perez

Writer
Severo Perez

Executive Producer
Paul Espinosa

Executive Producer
Lindsay Law

Producer
Paul Espinosa

Co-Producer
Severo Perez

Associate Producer
Bob Morones

Earth DiD not part posterThe film is an adaptation of the prize-winning novel . . . y no se lo trago la tierra by Tomas Rivera. Set in 1952, and seen through the eyes of a twelve-year-old boy Marcos, the story follows a Mexican American family’s migrant journey through a year in their lives. The boy’s recollections of the poignant, sometimes funny and sometimes terrifying experiences become a magical voyage of self-discovery. In the review by the New York Times, critic Brian Whitner wrote, “Marcos and his family encounter a rich, difficult, and, at times, pathetic cast of characters including other migrant workers, a shoe salesman, and, in the most startling part of the film, white Americans. Through these encounters, Marcos comes to understand his place in the order of things, namely, near the bottom, discovers the power of familial bonds to comfort and overcome hardship, and uncovers in himself a desire to learn and educate.”

Mi Familia (1995)
Cast

Edward James Olmos (Paco)
Rafael Cortés  (Roberto)
Ivette Reina  (Trini)
Amelia Zapata (Roberto’s Girlfriend)
Jacob Vargas (Young Jose)

Director
Gregory Nava

Writer
Gregory Nava
Anna Thomas

Producer
Anna Thomas

Mi Familia PosterSummary: Traces over three generations an immigrant family’s trials, tribulations, tragedies, and triumphs. Maria and Jose, the first generation, come to Los Angeles, meet, marry, and face deportation all in the 1930′s. They establish their family in East L.A., and their children Chucho, Paco, Memo, Irene, Toni, and Jimmy deal with youth culture and the L.A. police in the 50′s. As the second generation become adults in the 60′s, the focus shifts to Jimmy, his marriage to Isabel (a Salvadorian refugee), their son, and Jimmy’s journey to becoming a responsible parent.

Selena (1997)

Cast

Jennifer Lopez (Selena Quintanilla-Pérez)
Jackie Guerra (Suzette Quintanilla)
Constance Marie (Marcela Quintanilla)
Jacob Vargas (Abie Quintanilla)
Edward James Olmos (Abraham Quintanilla)
Lupe Ontiveros (Yolanda Saldivar)

Director
Gregory Nava

Writer
Gregory Nava

Producer
Moctesuma Esparza
Robert Katz

Selena posterSummary:  “Selena” tells the true-story of Tejana singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez, who was the most popular Latin Singer at the time of her death at the age of 23 years in 1995. The film tells the story of the 10-year-old singer and her family who form a musical group “Selena y Los Dinos” and embark on a path which would lead them to great musical heights and a catastrophic end. A film beloved by millions which launched Jennifer Lopez’s film career.

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