Our 5 Favorite Films from the New York International Latino Film Festival

The 12th Annual New York International Latino Film Festival (NYILFF) just wrapped up and we learned so much about our vibrant Latin culture from the entertaining and diverse movies that were screened from all over the U.S. and Latin America. From animated Cuban lovers united by music to Pitbull sharing his fondest childhood memory, there was something for everyone.

Here are our highlights:

1. NYILFF: Chico & Rita

Chico & Rita

Directed by Spanish men Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal, and Tono Errando, the animated film opened NYILFF this year – a first for the festival. Set in 1948 Cuba, Chico & Rita is a love story centered on a piano player and a talented singer who come together through their passion for music. They’re both taken on a journey through the world – New York, Paris, Hollywood, and Las Vegas. The film’s rich color palette and music’s warmth are sure to draw you in (pun intended).

2. NYILFF: Latino List

The Latino List

The new HBO documentary, which premieres Sept. 29 on the network, gives us intimate one-on-one interviews with a cross-section of Latino figures from vastly different disciplines. Directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, The Latino List makes viewers laugh, squirm, and even tear up, as the interviewees share what it means to each to be a modern Latino. The figures in the film include Pitbull, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

3. NYILFF: Magic City Memoirs

Magic City Memoirs

Set in Miami, Florida, Magic City Memoirs is about a small group of high school students who immerse themselves in irresponsible behavior as they teeter between graduation and the endangerment of their lives. The film, which was executively produced by legendary Cuban actor Andy Garcia (who was awarded the 2011 NYILFF Impact Award last week), stars his daughter, Dominik Garcia-Lorido. The young actress, whose credits include the indie films The Lost City and La Linea, spoke to Latina.com last week about her culture.

4. NYILFF: America


A tale of courage in the face of domestic abuse, America follows a young Puerto Rican mother whose abusive relationship drives her to leave her daughter and flee to New York. Helmed by Mexican director Sonia Fritz, the film stars 33-year-old Puerto Rican actress Lymari Nadal as America. At the red carpet premiere last week, Nadal spoke to Latina.com about her preparation for the role.  The actress met with victims of domestic violence in Puerto Rico and in Los Angeles, “It was a great psychological and humanistic journey because I never experienced it,” she said.

5. NYILFF: Blacktino


What is a Blacktino? For director Aaron Burns, the answer is a heavyset half black, half Latino nerd (played by newcomer Austin Marshall) named Stefan who struggles with a slew of problems ranging from the death of his beloved grandmother to his love for theatre. But the best part about this movie is that it’s ridiculously funny. The dark teen comedy (think a Latino Juno) combines humor with stereotypes in an attempt to make you a bit uncomfortable and think. Burns, who won the NYILFF award for Best Director this past Sunday, told Latina.com that he pushed the envelope because many people shy away from stereotypes to the point of making unrealistic characters. Like Stefan, Burns is also half black and half Latino (his mother is from Venezuela) and he wanted to explore where those worlds collide. Blacktino is a refreshing look into teen angst—not bad for Burns’ first feature film.

6. NYILFF: Related Links