by Luis Reyes
The upcoming slate of fall theatrical releases through the end of the year promises a diverse number of films with Latinos in the lead roles.
Oscar winning actor Benicio Del Toro stars as a mysterious hit man named Alejandro who joins forces with the FBI and the CIA in the border drug crime thriller Sicario opposite Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin opening this Friday, Sept. 19th.
Veteran actor Joaquin De Almeida is a South American political candidate in a story set in Bolivia in the Sandra Bullock political drama Our Brand is Crisis (Oct. 30th) with an all Latino cast which also stars Billy Bob Thornton, and Dominic Flores.
Mexican actress Stephanie Sigman plays Estrella, the first Mexican Bond Girl, in Spectre (releasing Nov. 6th) with Daniel Craig as secret agent 007 James Bond. Director Sam Mendes filmed the exciting thrill packed opening sequence of Spectre on location in Mexico City with hundreds of extras simulating a cinematic Day of the Dead street celebration.
The 33 with a release date of Nov. 13th, is the story of the Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 68 days and their ultimate rescue has been brought to the big screen by the only female Mexican director in the Directors Guild Patricia Riggen. The all star cast of The 33 includes a stellar cast of mostly Latinos Antonio Banderas, Kate Del Castillo, Jacob Vargas, Lou Diamond Phillips, Rodrigo Santoro, Cote de Pablo, Adriana Barraza and Martin Sheen. The movie was filmed on location in Colombia and Chile by Cinematographer Checo Varese and produced by Mike Medavoy (who grew up in Chile) and Bob Katz (Gods & Generals, Selena, Walkout). Oscar buzz for Banderas is already being heard,
Edgar Ramirez stars as the charismatic Bodhi, who leads a team of thrill seeking elite extreme sports athletes who are suspected of carrying out a spate of crimes in the remake of Point Break (Dec. 25th), Oscar nominated David Valdes is one of the producers on the film which was shot on location in Mexico, Venezuela, Tahiti, Hawaii, Austria, Italy and France.
The road to stardom for Oscar Isaac started with title role portrayal in Inside Llewyn Davis for which he received an Oscar nomination in 2013. With his leading role as Poe Dameron, the best fighter pilot in the galaxy in the eagerly awaited Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (Dec. 18th) he promises to reach super stardom status. Isaac stars alongside Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in their iconic roles as Hans solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia.
Jonas Cuaron, son of Oscar winning director Alfonso Cuaron and co-writer with his father of the Academy Award winning Best Picture Gravity, has premiered at the Toronto Film Festival the theatrical feature The Desert /Desierto, (release date TBA) which he directed and co-wrote with Mateo Garcia and produced by his uncle Carlos Cuaron. Gabriel Garcia Bernal stars as one of a group of Mexican immigrants who is pursued across the desert by a murderous American vigilante at the United States/Mexico border.
And Then There are the Stereotypes
Despite these positive roles, and filmmakers working both in front and behind the camera, presumed outdated Hollywood stereotypes still persist in such films as Quentin Tarentino’s Western The Hateful Eight (Dec. 25th) with Demian Bichir as a character called Bob, the Mexican.
Universal’s East Los Angeles setting of Lowriders (February 2016) also with Bichir, Eva Longoria and promising newcomer Gabriel Chavarria has a plot similar to the 1979 classic but controversial Boulevard Nights, which starred Richard Yniguez, Danny De La Paz and Marta Dubois. Just like in Boulevard Nights, the story revolves around two brothers, the younger of which chooses the street life, his father and his love of cars. It remains to be seen if Lowriders, which is directed by Peruvian filmmaker Ricardo de Montreuil, is exploitative and full of East LA. Stereotypes or an authentic depiction of fully realized characters and a car culture that has transcended its Mexican -American origins becoming internationally recognized and adopted for its artistic and cultural value.
However, all in all this fall gives us choices to support films with Latinos in them in a variety of genres. And as Latinos are the #1 film going audience these films are definitely vying for our money. Hollywood execs are hoping its their film you will be supporting.