Thirty-eight films to watch during Latinx Heritage Month

September 15, 2022

Latinx Heritage Month Films. Graphic of a film strip in orange and green colors with illustrations of traditional film projectors.

In recognition of Latinx Heritage month, the Media and Design Center at the University Libraries has curated a list of films by Latinx creators and centering Latinx stories. These films are available through the Library in streaming or DVD format, and can be accessed for teaching, learning or entertainment. 

If you don’t have a DVD player, don’t worry! The Media and Design center has viewing stations and portable DVD players for your use, as well as screening rooms for instructors who want to use films in their courses. 

Compiled by staff from the Media and Design Center. Film descriptions are drawn from the University Libraries’ online catalog. 


Coco 

Despite his family’s generations-old ban on music, Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector, and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history. Directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina.

Available on DVD. 


East Side Sushi 

Juana, a working-class, single mother, decides to take a job at a local Japanese restaurant. Against all odds, she fights to achieve her dream of becoming a sushi chef. Directed by Anthony Lucero. 

Available on DVD. 


Encanto 

The Madrigals live hidden in the mountains of Colombia, in a magical house, in a vibrant town, in a wondrous, charmed place called an Encanto. The magic of the Encanto has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift, from super strength to the power to heal. Every child except Mirabel. But when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is in danger, Mirabel decides that she, the only ordinary Madrigal, might just be her exceptional family’s last hope. Directed by Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Charise Castro Smith. 

Available on DVD. 


How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer 

In the summer heat of a small Arizona border town, sparks fly for three generations of women. Seventeen-year-old Blanca discovers romance for the first time with the new bad boy in town. Lolita, her mother, had hit a dry spell until the husband of one of her customers pays her a visit. Blanca’s grandmother, Doña Genoveva enlists her gardener Don Pedro to give her driving lessons and learns about more than cars in the process. Directed by Georgina Riedel. 

Available on DVD. 


In the Time of the Butterflies 

Based on the novel by Julia Alvarez and inspired by the true story of the Mirabal sisters, who faced brutal repression at the hands of the regime of Rafael Trujillo as a result of their involvement in an underground plot to overthrow him. Salma Hayek stars as Minerva Mirabal, whose direct personal experience with Trujillo’s abuse of power and suppression of his enemies pushes her into active participation in the opposition. She is joined by her two sisters, who become known as the butterflies and serve as an inspirational example of resistance to other Dominicans. Directed by Mariano Barroso. 

Available on DVD. 


Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse 

Miles Morales is the new Spider-Man but must also walk the balance between his personal high school & family life and his life as a superhero. While being Spider-Man, he becomes familiar with the Spider-Verse, where there are endless variations on Spider-Man. One of the Spider-Man variations living inside the Spider-Verse is Spider-Man, Peter B. Parker, who guides Miles in his journey as the new Spider-Man and introduces him to the multitude of other Spider-Men, including Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Ham. All of the various Spider-Men will have to band together when villains threaten the safety of the Spider-Verse and of the world itself. Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman. 

Available on DVD. 


La Misma Luna 

Tells the parallel stories of nine-year-old Carlitos and his mother, Rosario. In the hopes of providing a better life for her son, Rosario works illegally in the U.S. In Mexico, her mother cares for Carlitos. Unexpected circumstances drive both Rosario and Carlitos to embark on their own journeys in a desperate attempt to reunite. Along the way, mother and son face challenges and obstacles but never lose hope that they will one day be together again. Directed by Patricia Riggen. 

Available on DVD. 


Like Water for Chocolate 

Romantic fantasy set in Mexico during the early 20th century. A young couple is blocked from marrying by the demands of the young woman’s cold and selfish mother. To be near his love, the young man marries her sister, and she expresses her passion for him through her cooking. Directed by Alfonso Arau. 

Available on DVD. 


McFarland, USA 

Inspired by the 1987 true story, the movie follows novice runners from McFarland, an economically challenged town in California’s farm-rich Central Valley, as they give their all to build a cross-country team under the direction of Coach Jim White, a newcomer to their predominantly Latino high school. With grit and determination, the unlikely band of runners eventually overcomes the odds to forge not only a championship cross-country team but an enduring legacy as well. Directed by Niki Caro. 

Available on DVD. 


Mosquita y Mari 

An exquisitely crafted coming of age tale following a pair of Latina teens who fall gradually in love against the backdrop of East L.A. Directed by Aurora Guerrero. 

Available on DVD. 


Nothing Like the Holidays 

For the first time in years the entire Rodriguez clan comes home to Chicago to celebrate Christmas where traditions will be celebrated. During the course of this eventful week they will celebrate one member’s safe return from Iraq, secrets will be revealed, old resentments forgotten, each family member will learn something about themselves and each other, and the healing power of laughter will work its magic. Directed by Alfredo De Villa. 

Available on DVD. 


Bad Hair 

A nine-year-old boy’s preening obsession with straightening his hair elicits a tidal wave of homophobic panic in his hard-working mother. Directed by Mariano Rondón. 

Available on DVD. 


Real Women Have Curves 

The summer after Ana’s high school graduation is a turning point in her life. She has to decide whether to go to college and experience life, or stay home, get married and work at her sister’s struggling garment factory. Directed by Patricia Cardosa. 

Available on DVD. 


Roma 

“In Mexico City’s upscale Colonia Roma district, a quiet but swift change is on its way. Pivoting around Dr Antonio’s middle-bourgeoisie family, the lives of two women–the devoted live-in maid and housekeeper of Mixteco heritage, Cleo, and her academic employer, Sofía–become inextricably intertwined, as a seemingly ordinary business trip to Quebec paves the way for a bitter heartbreak. Over a span of one long year–from the quadrennial 1970s World Cup to the blood-drenched Corpus Christi Massacre–the unforeseen and sometimes unbearable complications of love; a new life amid death, and an almost stubborn will to find good in evil, pepper Sofía and Cleo’s daily routines. And before irrevocable transformations and startling revelations, life always finds a way.” –IMDb. 

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón. 

Available on DVD. 


Selena 

Shot dead on March 31, 1995 at the age of 23, Selena Quintanilla was poised to become the first female singer to cross over from Spanish to English markets successfully. For a little girl from Corpus Christi, Texas, Selena’s accomplishments were remarkable. She conquered the Spanish charts, had No. 1 hits, dominated Mexican-American pop music, won both acceptance in Mexico (despite shaky Spanish) and a Grammy.

This biopic presents Selena as that rare popular girl who’s not especially rich, cool, or perfect looking but is bubbly and warm and genuinely at ease. Nurtured by her family, Selena never pretended to be anything other than Mexican-American, which made her a cultural icon, while she continued to reach out to everyone. Her life was brutally cut short, but her example–working her way through obstacles with grace and grit–lives on. Directed by Gregory Nava. 

Available to stream. 


Spy Kids 

Carmen and Juni think their parents are boring. Little do they know that in their day, Gregorio and Ingrid Cortez were the top secret agents from their respective countries. They gave up that life to raise their children. Now, the disappearances of several of their old colleagues forces the Cortez’ return from retirement. What they didn’t count on was Carmen and Juni joining the “family business.” Directed by Robert Rodriguez. 

Available on DVD. 


Spy Kids 3: Game Over 

Secret agents Juni and Carmen set out on their most mind-blowing mission yet: to venture inside the virtual reality of a 3-D video game. The game contains awe-inspiring graphics and creatures that come dangerously close to real life. As they face escalating challenges, the Spy Kids must rely on humor, high-tech gadgets and the bonds of family in order to stop a power-hungry villain who is set on controlling the youth of the world. Directed by Robert Rodriguez. 

Available on DVD. 


Stand and Deliver 

Story of Jaime Escalante, a math teacher at East Los Angeles’ Garfield High School, who refuses to write off his inner-city students as losers. Escalante pushes and inspires 18 students who were struggling with math to become math whizzes. Directed by Ramon Menendez. 

Available on DVD. 


The Book of Life 

In this dark comedy about the Apocalypse, Jesus (Martin Donovan) arrives at JFK Airport with his assistant, Magdalena. He transfers the “Book of Life” to computer disk and battles the Devil for human souls, with second thoughts about whether these lives are worth saving. Directed by Hal Hartley. 

Available on DVD. 


Tortilla Soup 

This film is a heartwarming comedy that is all about food, family and a certain kind of magic that only happens around the dinner table. Martin Naranjo is the culinary genius behind a successful restaurant and the widowed father of three daughters. His passion for cooking is surpassed only by his devotion to his family and a compulsion to steer their lives in what he feels is the right direction. But the girls have their own ideas for their happiness. Hungry for independence, they find themselves at odds with their traditionalist father. And when a mysterious widow moves down the street, Martin’s world veers from his original plans for himself. Directed by Maria Ripoll. 

Available on DVD. 


15: A Quinceañera Story S1.E1

With the help of her trans-madrinas (godmothers), 15-year-old Zoey prepares for her quinceañera – a celebration the older women were never able to have themselves. Directed by Matthew O’Neill. 

Available to stream. 


15: A Quinceañera Story S1.E 2

As an American growing up in Florida with a mother from Guatemala and a father from Cuba, Rosi combines all three of her cultures for a quinceañera celebration in Havana – an appropriate destination given the fact that her beloved grandfather cannot get a visa to the United States. Directed by Matthew O’Neill. 

Available to stream. 


15: A Quinceañera Story S1.E 3

As an American growing up in Florida with a mother from Guatemala and a father from Cuba, Rosi combines all three of her cultures for a quinceañera celebration in Havana – an appropriate destination given the fact that her beloved grandfather cannot get a visa to the United States. Directed by Matthew O’Neill.

Available to stream.


15: A Quinceañera Story S1.E 4

Best friends from San Antonio, Texas, Jackie and Nina’s families have been in the United States for generations. They celebrate their Mexican heritage and a joint-quinceañera through the traditional Mexican rodeo, a horse-dancing display of escaramuza. Directed by Matthew O’Neill. 

Available to stream. 


Cassandro, the Exotico! 

This stirring feature portrait of Lucha libre star in his waning years in the ring is less a swan song than a meteor shower rendered in Technicolor. Famed as much for his flamboyant drag and sky-high pompadour as for his show-stopping kicks and flips, his trailblazing ascent as one the industry’s first openly gay wrestlers has resonated internationally for a quarter-century. Directed by Marie Losier. 

Available on DVD. 


Circo 

Gorgeously filmed along the back roads of rural Mexico, Circo follows the Ponce family’s hardscrabble circus as it struggles to stay together despite mounting debt, dwindling audiences, and a simmering family conflict. Tino, the ringmaster, is driven by his dream to lead his parents’ circus to success and corrals the energy of his whole family, including his four young children, towards their singular goal. But his wife Ivonne is determined to make a change. Directed by Aaron Shock. 

Available on DVD. 


Councilwoman 

“Carmen Castillo won a seat on the city council between shifts as a hotel housekeeper. Building a name for herself in local politics as she fought to unionize and, unsuccessfully, to raise the minimum hourly wage to $15 for all Providence, Rhode Island, hotel workers, Castillo infuriated her more corporate-minded constituents in Ward 9. Councilwoman tracks the story from her arrival in the U.S. from the Dominican Republic in the mid-1990s to her 2014 reelection bid, when she once again espouses a fiery progressive platform. And neither of her opponents proves shy about using her marginalized economic status and lack of formal higher education against her. Castillo battles personal setbacks and legacy notions of who is qualified to run for political office — all the while fiercely defending her vision of a society in which all people earn enough to support themselves and their families.”

– ITVS. 

Directed by Margo Guernsey. 

Available on DVD. 


Delores 

“Dolores Huerta is among the most important, yet least known, activists in American history. An equal partner in co-founding the first farm workers unions with Cesar Chavez, her enormous contributions have gone largely unrecognized. Dolores tirelessly led the fight for racial and labor justice alongside Chavez, becoming one of the most defiant feminists of the twentieth century—and she continues the fight to this day, at 87. With intimate and unprecedented access to this intensely private mother to eleven, the film reveals the raw, personal stakes involved in committing one’s life to social change.”

– deloresthemovie.com 

Directed by Peter Bratt.    

Available on DVD. 


The Swirl

In recent years, the town of El Remolino in Chiapas, Mexico has suffered from some of the country’s worst flooding. This lyrical documentary surveys the social and ecological impact, from schools that can’t open to farms that can no longer operate. Directed by Laura Herrero.
Available to stream. 


In the game 

“… Follows the ups and downs of a girls’ soccer team to reveal the very real obstacles that low-income students confront in their quest for higher education. Set in a primarily Hispanic neighborhood, Kelly High School on Chicago’s south side is an inner city public school struggling to provide the basic necessities for their students, many of whom do not make it to college, either because they cannot compete academically or because their families do not have the financial resources to send them to college. The girls face an uneven playing field – or in the case of the girls at Kelly High School, no soccer field at all – little or no support, problems at home, uncertain futures, discrimination, and poverty, but remain undaunted thanks to their teammates and the dedicated mentoring of their coach”

– Container. 

Directed by Maria Finitzo. 

Available on DVD. 


La Laguna 

“An immersive, visually stunning portrait of a childhood on the margins of society by Emmy-nominated director Aaron Schock, La Laguna tells the story of a Mayan boy’s remarkable journey from childhood to adolescence. While Yu’uk and his younger brother José enjoy a childhood of uncommon freedom in the rainforests of southern Mexico, Yu’uk’s family’s problems begin to mount and leaving his village – and his beloved little brother – may be his family’s only hope.”

– Container. 

Directed by Aaron Shock. 

Available on DVD. 


Las Marthas 

“The bordertown of Laredo, Texas hosts a celebration unlike any other. For 116 years, this Mexican American community has dedicated the month of February to honoring a man who never set foot in Laredo: George Washington. The hightlight is a Colonial Ball in which mostly Mexican American debutantes are dressed as colonial heroines and presented as guests of Martha Washington. Las Marthas follows two of the girls- Laura Garza Hovel and Rosario Reyes- as they prepare for this extraordinary rite of passage. The film unveils layers of tradition, as questions arise regarding the nature of borders, biculturalism, and the performance of identity.”

– Container. 

Directed by Cristina Ibarra 

Available on DVD. 


Made in L.A.

In 2001 three of the Latina immigrants working in a Los Angeles garment factory, fed up with its low wages and poor working conditions, began to speak out. Through a groundbreaking class-action lawsuit and consumer boycott, the women established an important legal and moral precedent holding Forever 21, a popular American retailer, liable for the labor conditions under which its products are manufactured. This program tells their story, providing an insider’s view into the struggles of recent immigrants and into the organizing process itself: the enthusiasm, discouragement, hard-won victories, and ultimate self-empowerment.

Available to stream.


Mala Mala 

Explores intimate moments, performances, friendships and activism of trans identifying people, drag queens and other who defy typical gender identities in Puerto Rico. Directed by Dan Sickles. 

Available on DVD. 


Nana Dijo: Irresolute Radiography of Black Consciousness 

“Nana Dijo is an urgent historical registry filmed in Mexico, Honduras, Uruguay, Argentina and the United States, which opens a crucial platform of analysis about race relations/politics by transgressing beyond the parameters of “safe discourses” imposed by culturalist agendas. The narrative sewed into Nana Dijo grows out from the body of the oppressed as an auto-cartographic experience that trespasses the borders created by nation-states. Nana Dijo is the Black experience, often hidden in the colonized psyche, which goes out for a walk each Sunday through the vernacular manifestations of our elders.” – Description from distributor website. 

Directed by Bocafloja. 

Available on DVD. 


The Bronze Screen: 100 Years of the Latino Image in Hollywood 

The Bronze screen honors the past, illuminates the present, and opens a window to the future of Latinos in motion pictures. From silent movies to urban gang films, stereotypes of the Greaser, the Lazy Mexican, the Latin Lover and the Dark Lady are examined. Rare and extensive footage traces the progression of this distorted screen image to the increased prominence of today’s Latino actors, writers and directors. Directed by Susan Racho, Nancy De Los Santos and Alberto Dominquez. 

Available on DVD. 


The Pushouts 

I was in prison before I was even born. So begins the story of Dr. Victor Rios who, by 15, was a high school dropout and gang member with three felony convictions and a death wish. But when a teacher’s quiet persistence, a mentor’s moral conviction, and his best friend’s murder converge, Rios’s path takes an unexpected turn. Through Rios’s personal lens and its interplay with the stories of the young people of Yo!Watts, The Pushouts interrogates crucial questions of race, class, and power – and the promise and perils of education – at a particularly urgent time. Directed by Katie Galloway and Dawn D. Valadez. 

Available on DVD. 


Xavier Viramontes: Printmaker: A Life in Print 

“A profile of Xavier Viramontes, one of the most influential Hispanic artists of our time. His iconoclast silk screen poster, ‘BOYCOTT GRAPES’, for the United Farmworkers, awakened a nation and rallied the Chicano movement in art. A segment explores the rich history of Galería de la Raza, its origins and influence on the Chicano movement and the culture of San Francisco” — Container.  

Directed by Michel Fraser. 

Available on DVD.