23 Latinx Documentaries On Netflix to Elevate Your Weekend
So many of us grew up reading Latin America’s rich history as an aside in a history book written by the white colonizer. As Latinos begin to finally have an honest voice in the film industry, we’re hearing our history told by Latinos.
It’s both thrilling and painful to bear, and these 24 documentaries are at the top of our list.
1.” The Latino List: Volume 1″
Let’s begin with the obvious. This Netflix Original documentary features some of the biggest Latino names in entertainment, politics, business and science and their truth about what it was like to grow up Latino in America. Spoiler: there were obstacles. Then they conquered them.
This one features America Ferrera, Eva Longoria, and more!
2. “The Latino List: Volume 2”
Ok, so obviously that topic cannot all fit into one documentary and you’ll need to hear more on point Latino conversations. This volume features insights from George Lopez, Soledad O’Brien, Victor Cruz, and Giselle Fernandez.
3. “Beauties of the Night”
You know how everyone’s mother was a disco queen back in the day, but you’re still looking for trophies as proof? This documentary features *actual* former disco queens of the Mexican burlesque variety and they have a lot to say. Hear them out.
4. “Whore’s Glory”
Hey, look! It’s a compassionate documentary of the lives of sex workers in Thailand, Bangladesh and Mexico. Warning: they use the word prostitute instead of sex worker.
5. “City of God”
This is not quite a documentary, but is worthy of making this list given it’s status as a four time Oscar nomination back in 2002. It’s based off the true story of a boy named Rocket who grew up in a Rio de Janeiro slum and features his photography from three decades of avoiding a life of crime and drugs.
6. “The Propaganda Game”
Only one foreigner has ever been given access into present-day North Korea and his name is Álvaro Longoria. Check out what North Korea decided to show the world. Hint: it’s staged, but still fascinating.
7. “Footprints: The Path of Your Life”
Ever heard of El Camino? It’s a 500 mile, 40 day trek that goes through Spain and is thought of as a spiritual journey. Follow these 10 men who walk the Camino de Santiago.
8. “Fresh Dressed”
Director Sacha Jenkins dives deep into the evolution of hip hop street fashion from Armani suits, mink coats and feathered hats into Pumas, Lee Jeans and Kangols. Spoiler: New York Latinos played a key role. Just ask my New Yorican mom.
9. “Narco Cultura”
So many documentaries about Latinos are centered around drug lords. This one is about the narcocorrido singer El Komander, who waves a bazooka around on stage at cartel-organized concerts. It’s a pretty interesting dive into the culture of ciudad Juarez, infamous for being essentially controlled by the cartel.
10. “Countdown to Death: Pablo Escobar”
There are half a dozen documentaries on Netflix about Pablo Escobar. This one uses wire taps, rare interviews and images to reconstruct the last nine years of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar’s life.
11. “Who Killed Pablo Escobar?”
Following the path of a crime mystery drama, this 45 minute documentary looks into evidence that surfaced in 2014 about Pablo Escobar’s death. Conspiracy theory: a joint effort between the Colombian and U.S. governments are responsible.
12. “Pablo Escobar: Angel or Demon?”
When you’re done understand the life and death of Pablo Escobar, now you can ask yourself if he was an angel or a demon. Some people consider him a Robin Hood of sorts, but I’m just going to go ahead and pass judgement on his bloody, murder-y reign in Colombia and go with diablo.
13. “Perú: Tesoro escondido”
Want to learn more about Perú in a broad sense? This documentary tries to cram 1,000 years of cultural traditions into just an hour and 16 minutes. The footage is breathtaking and speaks to its natural riches.
14. “Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives”
In the 1990s, Robert “Bobbito” García and Adrian “stretch” Bartos introduced the world to underground hip-hop on their offbeat nightly radio hour. They’re the ones who handed the mic over to unsigned acts like Notorious B.I.G., Wu-Tang Clan and Big Pun.
P.S. It’s directed by Bobbito himself. True story.
15. “Sunday Ball”
You know how sports movies can be so moving when the whole town is rooting for the team? This documentary tells the truer version of that story: The city (Rio) is poor, and the players are underpaid playing on dirt fields. Their passion brings the neighborhoods together in celebration
16. “The Cuba Libre Story”
Netflix has Cuba content on lock. This Netflix Original docuseries recounts a holistic view of Cuba’s history, including it’s colonial conquest and how that impacted the government today.
17. “Cuba and the Cameraman”
Enter the documentaries featuring white men in Cuba. To be fair, this guy actually spent 40 years immersed in Cuba, following 8 families. Follow their stories.
Truth: I haven’t watched this. This extranjero falls in love with mariachi while in jail and then sells everything to learn from the best in Mexico. I’ve heard he’s pretty good, but tell us what you think!
19. “The Wolfpack”
Oh man, where to begin. This documentary follows the lives of seven siblings who were raised in front of the television by an overprotective Peruvian father. They obsessively re-create the films that consumed their lives, even though it’s not quite the freedom they were searching for. The film won a Grand Jury prize at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
20. “Los Punks”
Viva Los Punks! Let’s be real, Latinos define punk and Angela Boatwright gives us an inside look of the East Los Angeles teens who keep the punk scene alive.
21. “Marias: Faith in Womanhood”
We all have at least one tia or middle name named after the Virgin Mary. The documentary interviews a variety of Marias and their different takes on their name and their faith. This one is next on my list.
22. “When Two Worlds Collide”
You need to be emotionally prepared before witnessing second-hand the Peruvian government wreak violence on the Amazon’s indigenous peoples over land and money. Watch Peruvian President Alan Garcia and indigenous leader Alberto Pizango fight for what they believe is their land. #TeamPizango
23. “The Day I Met El Chapo”
What could go wrong when Kate del Castillo introduces Sean Penn to wanted drug lord El Chapo? Pretty much everything. Watch the three part series that lands El Chapo in prison. Woops!