43rd Annual Latin American Film Series

presented by
The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies
April 21-May 1, 2022 Central Time

Free Virtual Series
All films are available through the entire festival.

All films will be shown in their original language with English subtitles. You must register in order to gain access to the virtual festival and watch the films. (Films are not rated; many include adult content.)
For more information: LAFSatUWM@gmail.com

LAFS 2022 programmer: EJ Basa
co-programmer: Lin Haggerty

The series is co-sponsored by the UWM Union Student Involvement and Union Cinema; the Provost’s Office; UWM Union Sociocultural Programming; the Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies; the International Business Center of the Lubar School of Business; the Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education; The Queer Curatorial Fund of the UWM Department of Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres; Honors College; English Language Academy; Institute of World Affairs; Language Resource Center; Military and Veterans Resource Center; Roberto Hernández Center; Sigma Delta Pi National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society; UWM LGBTQ+ Resource Center; UWM Libraries; Latinx Student Union; Women’s Resource Center; UWM Departments and Programs: African and African Diaspora Studies; Anthropology; Arts and Humanities; Art History; Communication; Cultures and Communities; English; Ethnic Studies; Film Studies; Film, Video, Animation and New Genres; Foreign Languages and Literatures; French, Italian, and Comparative Literature (FICL); Freshwater Sciences; Geography; Geosciences; History; Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latinx Studies (LACUSL); MA in Language, Literature and Translation (MALLT); Linguistics; Mathematics; Music; Political Science; Psychology; Sociology; Spanish & Portuguese; Translation & Interpreting Studies; Urban Studies; and Women’s and Gender Studies.

A Place in the World

Amidst ebbs and flows in a global pandemic, a surge of evidence regarding climate instability, and the persistent struggle to not merely survive but to thrive in our world, this year’s LAFS focuses on questions around the dynamic between the individual within a social and environmental context. Where is my place in the world? Where is your place in the world? Where is our place in the world? How are we as humans connected to one another and to our environment? How is our history a part of our future? How is the ecosystem, within which we live, impacted by our presence? These questions (and many more) have inspired the choices for this year’s 43rd LAFS lineup.

While each film touches on the theme of “a place in the world,” one might be able to narrow down some of the inquiries into categories. We welcome you to create your own as you watch and experience the power of each film. We also offer up a possibility for organizing some of the films in the lineup.

We look forward to finding out about how you might have viewed the films, ventured into your own inquiries about the theme “a place in the world” and come to understand a part of your place through viewing the line up.



Brazil, 2019, 131 min, Dirs. Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonça Filho

Descripción en español abajo. 


Pragda Study Guide

A few years from now…
Bacurau, a small village in the Brazilian sertão, mourns the loss of its matriarch, Carmelita, who lived to be 94. Days later, its inhabitants (among them Sônia Braga) notice that their village has literally vanished from online maps and a UFO-shaped drone is seen flying overhead. There are forces that want to expel them from their homes, and soon, in a genre-bending twist, a band of armed mercenaries led by Udo Kier arrive in town picking off the inhabitants one by one.

A fierce confrontation takes place when the townspeople turn the tables on the villainous outsiders, banding together by any means necessary to protect and maintain their remote community. The mercenaries just may have met their match in the fed-up, resourceful denizens of little Bacurau.

En un futuro cercano. El pueblo de Bacurau llora la muerte de su matriarca Carmelita, que falleció a los 94 años. Algunos días más tarde, los habitantes se dan cuenta de que el pueblo está siendo borrado del mapa. De FilmAffinity.

Miguelito: a Song to Puerto Rico (Miguelito: Canto a Borinquen)

Colombia, Puerto Rico, 2020, 94 min, Dir. Sam Zubrycki

Descripción en español abajo.

Pragda Study Guide

In 1973, the eleven-year-old Miguelito was discovered singing in San Juan airport by the legendary New York record producer Harvey Averne. Within a year, he went from the slums of Manuel A Perez to recording an album with the finest salsa musicians of the time, to finally performing with Eddie Palmieri at Madison Square Garden in front of 20,000 people. Every radio station played some of his tracks, like Payaso and Canto a Borinquen. A year later, he had disappeared from public life.

Reminiscent of Searching for Sugar Man, filmmaker Sam Zubrycki and legendary music producer Harvey Averne follow Miguelito’s steps to find him. Featuring incredible archival footage of NYC in the 70s’ and salsa performances from Papo Lucca’s La Sonora Poncena, Malo Malo and many others, this is a film that celebrates the musical and cultural depth of the Caribbean, as well as the music industry, but most of all, Miguelito’s life, music, and the world he inhabited.

En el año 1973 temas como Payaso o Canto a Borinquen sonaban en todas las emisoras radiales en la voz de un niño. Era Miguelito. Su éxito, no por efímero es menos inmortal. Son muchos quienes lo recuerdan. ¿Qué pasó con él y con su música? El documental está planteado como un alegre viaje por diferentes países escarbando en la memoria de melómanos que tienen el disco o conservan recuerdos sobre su particular carrera. De FilmAffinity.

Perfect Strangers (Perfectos Desconocidos) 

Mexico, 2018, 104 min, Dir. Manolo Caro

Descripción en español abajo.

Pragda Study Guide

From Mexican director Manolo Caro (Netflix’s The House of Flowers) comes the electrifying comedy about a seemingly simple dinner party. When a group of best friends gets together during a lunar eclipse to share an intimate meal in the tasteful house of Eva and Antonio, they suspect it’s just another typical night, until the hostess proposes a game. All guests must lay their cell phones on the table and read aloud all incoming messages and answer all incoming phone calls in front of the entire group. What begins as a provocative party game quickly becomes a wild ride full of twists and “textual tension” in this over the top comedy about the secrets we all carry in our pockets.

Cecilia Suárez and Bruno Bichir lead a stellar ensemble of some of Mexico’s most respected actors in this adaptation of Perfetti Sconosciuti by Paolo Genovese, the Italian film that has become a global sensation inspiring remakes in countries like Greece, Spain, China, and France among others.

Varios amigos de toda la vida se reúnen para cenar. Cuando deciden compartir entre ellos el contenido de cada mensaje de texto, correo electrónico y llamada telefónica que reciben, muchos secretos comienzan a develarse y el equilibrio se rompe. Versión mexicana de la exitosa película italiana ‘Perfetti sconosciuti’ (2016), dirigida por Paolo Genovese. De FilmAffinity. 

Camila’s Awakening (El despertar de Camila)

Chile, 2018, 88 min, Dir. Rosario Jiménez-Gili

Descripción en español abajo.

Pragda Study Guide

What would you do with a second chance? At seventeen, Camila got too used to win. Smart and beautiful, she has managed to achieve every goal. She loves swimming and doesn’t know failure. However, the water that has given her success in the recent past, now leads her to the biggest setback of her life: a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) that will force her to reinvent herself with courage, humor, and love.

Inspired by a true story of bravery and resilience, Camila’s Awakening offers an enlightening way to discuss how we view disability and its portray in the media as well as a refreshing look at one of the world’s main causes of acquired disability that is surprisingly more frequent among young people than imagined.

Camila (17) está demasiado acostumbrada a triunfar. Bella e inteligente como es, se las arregla para alcanzar cualquier meta que se proponga. Ella ama nadar y no conoce el fracaso. Sin embargo sería el agua, el medio que tantas satisfacciones le había dado, el que ahora la enfrenta a la mayor adversidad de su vida. Un accidente la obligará a reinventarse. Con coraje, humor y amor. De FilmAffinity.

Spider Thieves (Niñas araña)

Chile, 2016, 94 min, Dir. Guillermo Helo

Descripción en español abajo.

Pragda Study Guide

Inspired by actual events, this teenage thriller is a unique social commentary on dreams, class, and unfulfilled expectations in contemporary Chile.

Three teenage girls from a Santiago shanty town set in motion a plan to climb buildings and plunder expensive apartments. All they want is to have all the cool and trendy stuff they see advertised in TV commercials and department stores. Word spreads and soon enough they became the notorious “spider thieves.”

Tres adolescentes marginales emprenden una arriesgada aventura escalando los edificios de un barrio alto para entrar a robar, buscando cambiar el destino que les tocó vivir. De FilmAffinity. 

On the Roof (El Techo)

Cuba, Nicaragua, 2017, 75 min, Dir. Patricia Ramos

Descripción en español abajo.

Pragda Study Guide

In this feel-good ensemble dramedy, a flat rooftop in an old Havana neighborhood is the natural habitat for three friends who spend their days and nights dreaming about the future.

Yasmani is an amateur pigeon fancier who is too shy to talk to a girl he likes; Victor José has convinced himself of his Sicilian descent and now prefers to go by Vito; Anita is five months pregnant and pretends that she doesn’t care who the father is. In the midst of their boredom, without money and dreaming about success, they decide to set up their own business. The cost of this dream will finally lead them to personal maturity, but with some difficulty.

A deliciously off-beat romantic comedy, On the Roof doesn’t shy away from tackling the problems facing contemporary Cuban youth. The film offers an impeccable balance of colloquial charm and universal appeal. Patricia Ramos and her excellent cast have crafted highly relatable characters with varying degrees of ambition, ingenuity, and quirk.

En el centro de La Habana, sobre una azotea, tres jóvenes amigos se reúnen día a día para contarse historias y sueños, tratando de que el tiempo pase sin notarse. En medio del aburrimiento, sin apenas recursos y soñando con la prosperidad, deciden armar un negocio propio. El precio de este sueño los conducirá finalmente a la madurez personal, no exenta de cierta felicidad. De FilmAffinity. 

Midnight Family

Mexico, 2019, 81 min, Dir. Luke Lorentzen

Descripción en español abajo.


Pragda Study Guide

In Mexico City, the government operates fewer than 45 emergency ambulances for a population of 9 million. This has spawned an underground industry of for-profit ambulances often run by people with little or no training or certification. An exception in this ethically fraught, cutthroat industry, the Ochoa family struggles to keep their financial needs from jeopardizing the people in their care. The Ochoas operate out of one of these private ambulances with an all-male crew ranging in age and experience. This dangerous job, however, is not a lucrative business. Many times, their passengers will neither have insurance or enough money to pay for their services, however necessary their intervention may have been. When a crackdown by corrupt police pushes the family into greater hardship, the family face increasing moral dilemmas even as they continue providing essential emergency medical services.

Mixing riveting and grueling scenes of life-or-death moments and candid moments outside of their job, including scenes like Josué playing in the back of the ambulance, Juan’s therapeutic phone calls to his girlfriend, and the family’s routine to get ready for work, Midnight Family is both a compassionate portrait of a working-class family and a frightening ride through a broken healthcare system that risks the lives of both patients and providers like the Ochoa family.

La familia Ochoa se compone casi en su totalidad por paramédicos que luchan a diario por ser los primeros en responder a la llamada de los pacientes que necesitan asistencia médica tras sufrir un accidente. En una ciudad en la que el gobierno sólo cuenta con 45 ambulancias para una población de más de 9 millones de habitantes, la labor de la familia se torna imprescindible, aunque no cuenta con ningún tipo de ayuda ni reconocimiento por parte del Estado. Esto implica que, con cierta frecuencia, los conductores de las ambulancias tienen que someterse a una serie de contratiempos que han de solventar de manera ilícita, ya sea a través de sobornos a las autoridades o mediante prácticas poco éticas que afectan directamente al bolsillo de los propios accidentados. De FilmAffinity.

Cacu: a Change for Life (Cacú: un cambio por la vida)

Dominican Republic, 2018, 79 min, Dir. Marvin del Cid

Descripción en español abajo.

What does it take to transform a sea turtle nest predator into a conservationist of the endangered species?

With electrifying images, Cacu: A Change for Life follows five fishermen from Manresa, a poor neighborhood to the West of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, as they learn from marine biologist Omar Shamir Reynoso’s one-of-a-kind plan to protect nesting sea turtles. With the scientist’s guidance and the community’s collaboration, the fishermen become sea turtle advocates and custodians in this story of conservation success.

Environmental and social problems intertwine as we learn about the biology of endangered sea turtles, and the social and economical challenges of a vulnerable neighborhood. Cacu is a hopeful environment story of success and inclusion.

Es la historia de 5 pescadores de Manresa, un barrio marginal al oeste del Distrito Nacional de Santo Domingo, y su proceso de conversión de depredadores de nidos de tortuga marina a conservacionistas de estas especies. De CCESD.


Brazil, 2016, 162 min, Dirs. Vincent Carelli, Ernesto De Carvalho, Tatiana Almeida

Descripción en español abajo.

Filmed over the course of 40 years, indigenous expert and filmmaker Vincent Carelli seeks out the origins of the Guaraní Kaiowá genocide. A conflict of disproportionate forces: the peaceful and obstinate insurgency of the dispossessed Guaraní Kaiowá against the powerful apparatus of agribusiness. While fighting against the Brazilian Congress in order not to be evicted from their homes, the 50.000 indigenous people demand the demarcation of the space that belongs to them.

With rigorous investigative work, this Brazilian director recorded the birthplace of the resistance movement in the 1980s and tells, with his own voice and those of the indigenous people, of the social and political injustices suffered. The stunning archival historical images, new footage, both color and black and white, hearings in Brazilian Congress, and even interviews with those opposed to the Guaraní Kaiowá’s rights, reveal the crudeness with which they coexist every day: among the violation of their civil rights and the fortitude with which they confront the usurpers.

This epic documentary has become a sensation in Brazil and the ultimate testimony that unifies these unheard voices by “ethnocide actions,” the cruel synthesis of a conflict without a foreseen solution in the near future.

Flameando la bandera que afirma que todo cine es político, Vincent Carelli visibiliza en este documental la causa de los guaraní-kaiowá: un grupo de indígenas que teme que sus tierras, situadas en Mato Grosso del Sur, sean confiscadas por el Estado. Un conflicto territorial que nació hace más de cien años, en la guerra del Paraguay. Mientras luchan contra el Congreso de Brasil para no ser desalojados de sus casas, los 50.000 indígenas reclaman la demarcación del espacio que les pertenece. Con un trabajo de investigación riguroso, el director brasileño relata con su propia voz las injusticias sociales y políticas que padecen los guaraníes a través de un material fílmico que registró durante más de cuarenta años. Las imágenes de archivo, a color y en blanco y negro, revelan la crudeza con la que conviven diariamente: entre la vulneración de sus derechos civiles y la garra con que enfrentan a los usurpadores. Martírio, financiada por un colectivo de personas que defienden esta causa, confirma una vez más que no hay arma más poderosa y revolucionaria que una cámara. De FilmAffinity

Yvy Maraey, Land Without Evil (Yvy Maraey, tierra sin mal)

Bolivia, 2014, 105 min, Dir. Juan Carlos Valdivia

Descripción en español a continuación.

A Bolivian filmmaker and a Guaraní Indian travel together through the forests of southeastern Bolivia to make a film about the Guaraní people. The starting point is a 1911 film by Swedish explorer Erland Nordenskiöld. But today’s reality turns out to be much more intense than the nostalgia for a lost world. In Yvy Maraey, the white man (the director) and the Indian create and interpret their own characters, walking the thin line between documentary, fiction, and performance. Far from observing another culture, we are watched and questioned about our identity in a country undergoing enormous social, political, and historical change as it struggles to create an intercultural society. Yvy Maraey is a quest for the knowledge within, seen through the eyes of the other. Here learning comes from another form of seeing—listening. The film combines reality with the epic tale of a heroic indigenous nation.

Un cineasta y un líder indígena viajan juntos por los bosques del sureste boliviano con el objetivo de investigar para una película sobre el mundo guaraní. El punto de partida es una imagen en movimiento de unos salvajes filmada por un explorador sueco en 1910. Pero el presente tiene más posibilidades que la nostalgia de un mundo perdido para siempre. Kandire es un viaje de auto conocimiento a partir de la mirada y el oído del otro. Filmada en Cinemascope, combina una narrativa cotidiana con la épica de un pueblo heróico. De FilmAffinity. 

Tremors (Temblores)

Guatemala, 2019, 107 min, Dir. Jayro Bustamante

Descripción en español abajo.

Pragda Study Guide

In this deeply personal follow-up to his landmark debut Ixcanul, Jayro Bustamante shifts his focus from rural Guatemala to the denizens of Guatemala City, but once again sets his sights on an individual caught between two seemingly irreconcilable worlds.

When handsome and charismatic Pablo arrives at his affluent family’s house everyone is eagerly awaiting the return of their beloved son, devoted father, and caring husband. A seemingly exemplary pillar of Guatemala City’s Evangelical Christian community, Pablo’s announcement that he intends to leave his wife for another man sends shock waves through the family. As Pablo tries to acclimate to his new life in the city’s gay subculture with the liberated Francisco, his ultra-religious family does everything in its power to get their prodigal son back on track, no matter the cost.

As he is further blacklisted from social circles, fired from his job for breaching his firm’s “flawless moral code,” and increasingly desperate to see his two children, Pablo quietly submits to a brutal conversion-therapy regimen, leading to a moral and emotional tipping point against the reality of life within a deeply religious culture. In a deeply repressive society, God loves the sinner, but not the sin itself.

Guatemala, en la actualidad. Pablo es un “buen hombre”: un cristiano evangélico practicante, de 40 años y casado y con dos hijos. Pero un día Pablo se enamora de Francisco y decide abandonar a su devota familia evangélica. Sus familiares, sin embargo, ponen su fe y la familia por encima de todo y se aferran aun a la idea de poder “curar” a Pablo. De FilmAffinity. 

The Future Perfect (El futuro perfecto)

Argentina, 2016, 65 min, Dir. Nele Wohlatz

Descripción en español abajo.

Pragda Study Guide

Awarded Best First Feature at the Locarno International Film Festival, German-Argentinian newcomer Nele Wolatz’s The Future Perfect explores fractured relationships within culture, tradition, and language in this whimsical romantic comedy.

Xiaobin is 17 years old and does not speak a single word of Spanish when she arrives in Argentina. But a few days later, she already has a new name, Beatriz, and a job in a Chinese supermarket. Her family lives in a parallel world in a launderette, far removed from the Argentinians. Xiaobin secretly saves money and enrolls at a language school. She tries out in the street what she learns there. After having learned how to “make appointments,” she arranges to meet a supermarket customer, Vijay. He comes from India, and although they can barely communicate with each other, they start a secret romance. And when she practices the condicional, the form of possibility, Xiaobin starts thinking about the future. What would happen if her parents learned about Vijay? The more she masters the Spanish language, the more she interferes in the scenario.

Xiabon tiene 17 años y no habla una palabra de español cuando llega a Argentina. Pero unos días después ya tiene un nuevo nombre, Beatriz, y un trabajo en un supermercado chino. Su familia vive en un mundo paralelo en una lavandería, lejos de los argentinos. Xiaobin ahorra dinero en secreto y se apunta a una escuela de idiomas. De FilmAffinity. 

Colorin Colorado

U.S, 2022, 8 min, Dir. Paula Lovo

Colorin Colorado is about folklore and intuition, tied through Lovo’s abuela’s recollection of memories. Through personal reflection, research, and conversations with her abuelita, Lovo was inspired by the consejos she, along with other grandparents, share with their grandchildren. Lovo saw a connection between the cautionary endings of leyendas to the stories that grandparents choose to share. This film went through many transformations. The animation was inspired by Lotte Reiniger, a German film director who used silhouette animation to depict fairytales and folklore. The masks were inspired by both traditional Nicaraguan dances along with their political and radical usage in protecting community members identity during uprisings, specifically in Monimbo. The 16mm film work was incorporated to bring the viewer into the story while also expressing the DIY nature of the film. This short film was directed and produced by Lovo, a recent graduate of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Certificate. This specific film is available in full below rather than on the Pragda site.


This festival is made possible through a Pragda Spanish Film Club grant and the support of our co-sponsors.

English language film information is provided by Pragda.