Latinx Films to Catch at SXSW 2019

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SXSW kicks off this Friday in Austin, Texas and this year’s film portion of the festival is one of its most significant to date. The film festival will be bookended by two highly anticipated horror films (Us and Pet Sematary), as well as a premiere from director Harmony Korine and panel discussions from some of the hottest names right now, like Zoe Saldana. As the festival grows so has the number of Latinx filmmakers having their work featured. In celebration of that, we wanted to highlight some of the most exciting selections from this year's festival. Beyond these selections, director Robert Rodriguez will hold a class on guerilla filmmaking that coincides with a screening of a film he helped create called Red 11 (below), and music videos from Cuco and Hurray For The Riff Raff will be showcased. If you are lucky enough to find yourself at SXSW this week, make sure to support these talented Latinx filmmakers.


 LATINX AT SXSW 2019:


Building The American Dream

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Across Texas an unstoppable construction boom drives urban sprawl and luxury high-rises. Its dirty secret: abuse of immigrant labor. Building the American Dream captures a turning point as a movement forms to fight widespread construction industry injustices. Grieving their son, a Mexican family campaigns for a life-or-death safety ordinance. A Salvadorian electrician couple owed thousands in back pay fights for their children’s future. A bereaved son battles to protect others from his family’s preventable tragedy. A story of courage, resilience and community, the film reveals shocking truths about the hardworking immigrants who build the American Dream, from which they are excluded. [Schedule]


The Wall of Mexico

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Don, a young handyman, is hired by the Aristas (Esai Morales and Alex Meneses), a wealthy Mexican-American family with two outrageously decadent daughters. The source of the Aristas’ wealth is a mystery to Don. Living in nearby Winfield, he soon learns tensions are high between the Aristas and the poor white townspeople, and that this has something to do with their well, which Don is asked to guard at night. People are superstitious about the well. Don learns the Aristas are selling wellwater at alarming prices. Don becomes infatuated with the younger daughter, Tania. As the water level drops, possibly from theft, the situation comes to a boil, and the Aristas decide to build a massive wall. [Schedule]


The Infiltrators

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Without warning, Claudio Rojas is detained by ICE officials outside his Florida home. He is transferred to the Broward Transitional Center, a detention facility used as a holding space for imminent deportations. Terrified of never seeing him again, Claudio’s family contacts the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA), a group of activist Dreamers known for stopping deportations. Believing that no one is free as long as one is in detention, NIYA enlists Marco Saavedra to self-deport with the hopes of gaining access to the detention center and impeding Claudio’s expulsion. Once inside, Marco discovers a complex for-profit institution housing hundreds of multinational immigrants, all imprisoned without trial. Based on true events, The Infiltrators is both a suspenseful account of a high-stakes mission and an emotionally-charged portrait of visionary youth fighting for their community.  [Schedule]


RED 11

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Adapted for only $7000 from story notes written 25 years ago based on Robert Rodriguez’s experience, RED 11 is a horror thriller set in a dark, twisted version of the legal drug research business. At these facilities, college kids turn lab rats to make quick money, and our hero, Rob (who is assigned the color and number RED 11) is here to buy his way out of a huge debt to the tune of $7,000. This story shows the quirks, characters, and comedy of Rodriguez’s experience being a human lab rat. With a sci-fi/horror twist, RED 11 isn’t sure if the hospital is really trying to kill him, or if it’s side effects from the drugs. [Schedule]


Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy

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At five feet tall and 95 years old, Diana Kennedy is larger than life: a foul-mouthed fireball far more feisty and energetic than her age and petite frame let on. British ex-pat and the author of nine Mexican cookbooks, Diana has spent over sixty years researching and documenting the regional cuisines of Mexico on her own. Diana has lived ‘off-the-grid’ on an eight-acre ranch outside Zitácuaro, Michoacán since the 1970s, composting, growing her own crops, and using solar power to run her home. Aware of her own mortality, she is working tirelessly to solidify the legacy of her life’s efforts, with the hope of turning her home into a foundation for culinary education in Mexico.  [Schedule]


Days of The Whale

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Cristina and Simon are two young graffiti artists who paint the city that they live in. Their restless spirit leads them to defy a criminal gang when they decide to paint a mural of a whale over a threat written on a wall. The love that unites them, their friendship with other artists at La Selva (an old house they use as a refuge), and familiar tensions come together to tell a story where the powerful strength of youth faces fear, violence and the difficulties of growing up.  [Schedule]


Porno

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Abe is a burgeoning perv with a guilty conscience. Todd is Abe’s spazzed out BFF and partner in grime. Chaz is a girl with a boy’s name who hides her feelings behind a thick layer of goth eyeliner. Ricky is the star jock with a secret in his pants he dare not expose. What these uptight dweebs could never have guessed is that the wholesome movie theater they work at used to have a lot more than just gum stuck to the seats. When a remnant of the theater’s porno past surfaces, the kids are visited by a sex demon that gives them a taste of the dark side.  [Schedule]


La Mala Noche

Smart and beautiful Dana (Nöelle Schönwald) resorts to prostitution to make a living. She must deliver most of her income to a mafia boss who protects and exploits her. She’s good at what she does, a job she landed by mistake, out of love. Perhaps, if she behaves well enough, she might get her freedom, but her daughter’s illness and addiction to a pharmaceutical drug will prevent her from reaching her goals.  An unexpected incident will give her the opportunity to break free from her captor and seek justice with her own hands.  [Schedule]


Being Impossible

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Ariel is a young religious dressmaker who, after a failed sexual encounter, discovers a secret her family has tried to hide all of her life: she was born intersex but, after corrective surgery, raised as a girl. A decision is now on her horizon: she can either keep living as a socially accepted but oppressed woman or live her life as an openly-intersex person and face the judgement of society. Venezuelan director Patricia Ortega turns Being Impossible into a careful examination of the tricky territory that comes with figuring out one’s gender identity when it’s been coercively chosen for you.  [Schedule]


Any One Of Us

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When professional mountain biker Paul Basagoitia suffers a devastating spinal cord injury (SCI), his life is changed in an instant. Discovering that he's become paralyzed, Paul begins a grueling battle against his own body and mind, in the hope of one day being able to walk again. His excruciating recovery unfolds in real time through raw, intimate footage, much of which was filmed by Paul himself, as he fights through the agonies of an unpredictable journey and uncertain future. A chorus of other diverse SCI survivors weaves through the film, shining light on the struggles that Paul now faces. After years of relentless hard work, intense physical therapy, and even controversial stem cell treatments, Paul slowly begins to build a new life for himself. Any One of Us shows how lives can change forever in the blink of an eye, and the resilience, grit, and determination it takes to stay open to life's possibilities, even under the most trying of circumstances. [Schedule]


We Are The Radical Monarchs

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A group of tween girls chant into megaphones, marching in the San Francisco Trans March. Fists clenched high, they wear brown berets and vests showcasing colorful badges like “Black Lives Matter” and “Radical Beauty.” Meet the Radical Monarchs, a group of young girls of color at the front lines of social justice. Set in Oakland, a city with a deep history of social justice movements, the film documents the journey of the group as they earn badges for completing units including being an LGBTQ ally, preserving the environment, and disability justice. Started by two fierce, queer women of color (Anayvette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest), we follow them as they face the challenge of growing the organization, both pre/post the 2016 election.  [Schedule]


Knock Down The House

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a young, bold Puerto Rican bartender from the Bronx, works double shifts to save her family’s home from foreclosure. Struggling with her own financial problems, she knows many of her neighbors are also hard-pressed to make a living. In order to bring representation to one of the most marginalized constituencies in America, Alexandria runs for office. This film follows four women—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin—who join a movement of insurgent candidates to topple incumbents in an electric primary race for Congress. At a moment of historic volatility in American politics, these four women, all political outsiders, unite to do what many consider impossible. Their efforts result in a legendary upset. [Schedule]


Pahokee

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Four high-school students, Na’Kerria, Jocabed, Junior, and BJ, embark on their senior year in Pahokee, a small Florida town on the shores of Lake Okeechobee. The teens navigate all of the sometimes exciting, sometimes heartbreaking rite-of-passage rituals as they make profound decisions about their futures. As they do, the pressure of Pahokee's economic hardships weighs heavily on their shoulders: the community has placed all hopes for opportunity on them, the next generation. [Schedule]

 Editor’s Note: Film description are courtesy of filmmakers.

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