Our Favorite Films Made By (Or Starring) Latinos At Tribeca Film Festival!

The Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) wrapped on this past weekend in New York, ending ten days of screenings, panels, red carpets, and community events.

This year, over 430,000 people attended the fest’s 10th edition, a milestone year for the film festival co-founded by Robert DeNiro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff. As in years past, it’s a great place to scout for talented new Latino filmmakers and actors!

Check out our round-up of the best movies we saw.

1. Tribeca 2011: Artificial Paradises

Artificial Paradises (Mexico)
Winner of this year’s Best Cinematography in a Narrative Feature Film award at TFF, Artificial Paradises is an intimate look at a troubled young woman and a 50-year-old widower who strike up an unlikely friendship in a run-down beach resort as they each battle their drug addictions. The landscapes in Veracruz, Mexico, are simply breathtaking, thanks to DP Luisa Tillinger.

2. Tribeca 2011: Like Water

Like Water (USA)
This documentary examines the life of Brazilian UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva, from life at home with his wife and children, to training for make-or-break matches with nasty opponents. Considered one of the greatest mixed martial arts fighters of all time, Silva is a hero to legions of fans, but is also often misunderstood by the media and promoters. This pic gives us insight into a man who doesn’t say much, but reveals plenty. Kudos to Venezuelan Pablo Croce, who won this year’s Best New Documentary Director award at TFF.  

3. Tribeca 2011: Semper Fi: Always Faithful

Semper Fi: Always Faithful (USA)
This documentary made its world premiere at TFF and was a hit, coming in second place for the Heineken Audience Award. Directed by Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon, it follows Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger, a retired Marine, as he investigates the cause of his nine-year-old daughter’s mysterious death from leukemia. His relentless research leads him to a shocking discovery: the water in his hometown, the site of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, was once contaminated, resulting in an unprecedented number of cancer cases and deaths. Jerry then crusades all across America to get to know the different soldiers and civilians who lived at the base camp during the contamination period. One of them is Denita McCall, a Mexican American woman from Colorado, who loses her battle to cancer. Far from getting discouraged at the military’s bureaucracy and lack of action, Jerry takes the battle to Congress. One of the largest water contamination cover-up stories in U.S. history is all the more horrifying because it begs the question: where else is this happening?

4. Tribeca 2011: The Good Doctor

The Good Doctor (USA)
Attention, up-and-coming Latino thesps: Call Michael Peña’s agent—stat! That boy gets almost as many roles in one year as Danny Trejo. The talented Mexican American actor, 35, had not one but two films at TFF: the dark indie comedy Everything Must Go (starring Will Ferrell) and the psychological thriller The Good Doctor. We were especially haunted by the latter, in which Peña plays a pill-popping orderly who blackmails a seemingly honest doc (Orlando Bloom) after he sees him behaving inappropriately with a patient. We desperately needed to watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy after this to remind ourselves why doctors aren’t evil. Bonus: we’ve never seen Bloom act so credibly creepy (and still look hot)!

5. Tribeca 2011: Last Night

Last Night (USA)
Iranian American director Massy Tadjedin’s first feature film, about a married NYC couple that flirts with infidelity, stars Eva Mendes, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, and Guillaume Canet. Check out our thoughts on the film and what Eva has to say about playing a ‘bad girl.’

*Watch Last Night instantly on Netflix or iTunes, or via Tribeca Film’s video-on-demand platform.

6. Tribeca 2011: My Last Round

My Last Round (Chile)
A cross between The Wrestler and Brokeback Mountain, this feature proves yet again that some of the best stories are coming out of the land of Neruda and the Carmenere. In writer/director Julio Jorquera’s epic feature film debut, an apathetic young man named Hugo falls for a middle-aged boxer, Octavio, who is forced to retire due to a worsening case of epilepsy. The two move from a small Southern town in Chile, where they must keep their passionate romance under wraps, to Santiago, but soon realize that life in the big city comes with its own set of problems, resulting in eventual tragedy.

7. Tribeca 2011: Blackthorn

Blackthorn (Spain/France/Bolivia/USA)

The legendary bandit Butch Cassidy is reimagined in director Mateo Gil’s Blackthorn.  In the film, Cassidy (played by Sam Shepard) is living in Bolivia twenty years after his disappearance in 1908, under the name of James Blackthorn.  Blackthorn, who longs to end his personal exile and see his family in the United States, reluctantly embarks on one final adventure with a Spanish mine robber, played by Eduardo Noriega.  Blackthorn soon discovers he isn’t the only one with a big secret. Cool fact: Gil is well known in Spain as a screenwriter. He co-wrote Alejandro Amenábar’s Open Your Eyes (which was later remade into Vanilla Sky) and The Sea Inside, among many others.

8. Tribeca 2011: Maria, My Love

Maria, My Love (USA)

In Maria, My Love, a film by first-time writer/director Jasmine McGlade Chazelle, a young woman who struggles to make sense of her life after her mother’s death forms an unlikely friendship with a hoarder. After feeling resentment for her father’s mistakes, Ana (played by Dominican-American actress Judy Marte) finds love and reunites with her half-sister. She decides to pay it forward and help Maria, a reclusive hoarder who has alienated her friends and family due to her behavior. The pair develops a friendship through which Ana learns some uncomfortable truths about herself.

9. Tribeca 2011: Neon Flesh

Neon Flesh (Spain)

Writer/director Paco Cabezas delivers a high-energy crime thriller with Neon Flesh, a film about a young man who prepares to open a brothel for his prostitute mother upon her release from prison. Ricky’s mother, Pura, abandoned him when he was 12, and to honor her, he enlists the help of his junkie girlfriend, a pimp, and a transsexual. When Ricky (played by Mario Casas) picks up his mother from the hospital, Pura, who suffers from the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, is far from impressed.

10. Tribeca 2011: Related Links