These Spanish-Language Films Were Some Of The Best Movies Of 2019 And Need To Be On Your Watch List

Spanish-speaking cinema is perhaps in one of its best moments ever. After the huge success of the Mexican film Roma in the Academy Awards, the film industry’s spotlight has been placed on Spanish-speaking filmmaking coming from Spain and Latin America. Distributors and producers scramble to find the next big thing that can disrupt the status quo. We have selected a handful of movies that show that the region is one of the most interesting today when it comes to film productions.

Latin America is still coming to terms with the colonial past that still shapes everyday interactions, and also with military dictatorships whose right-wing politics are now resurfacing much to the disdain of activists and large segments of the population. Spain has also experienced recent turbulent years that have made Spanish citizens look at the mirror and question who they are.

But there is a common denominator in these films: Spanish language, perhaps one of the most expressive in the world. Some of these films were released in their home countries in the second half of 2018, but only travelled the festival circuit or were released in 2019 in other markets such as the United States and Europe.

Araña (Spider)
Country: Chile
Director: Andrés Wood
Cast: María Valverde, Mercedes Morán, Caio Blat

Credit: Arana Bossa Nova Films

A thriller that looks into the fascist right-wing CIA supported groups that did the dirty work for the government during the Pinochet years in Chile. A testament of the dangers of extremism in the South American country that gains relevance given the current sociopolitical climate, where activists are protesting against the neoliberal policies of president Sebastian Piñera. Wood is one of the most interesting Chilean filmmakers of the past decade and joins others like Sebastian Lelio and Pablo Larrain as the next big thing in the industry, 

Así habló el cambista (The Moneychanger
Country: Uruguay
Director: Federico Veiroj
Cast: Germán de Silva, Dolores Fonzi, Daniel Hendler 

Credit: El Cambista Oriental Features

Uruguay is not what you would call a filmmaking powerhouse, but when one of its films makes it to the festival circuit it is usually with surprising results. This comedy of errors follows a master manipulator and schemer through two decades, from the fifties to the seventies, as the main character finds increasingly convoluted and shady ways to hide money in Swiss accounts. A delicate indictment of capitalist greed. 

La Flor
Country: Argentina
Director: Mariano Llinás
Cast: Elisa Carricajo, Valeria Correa, Pilar Gamboa

Credit: El Pampero Chile

A kaleidoscope in narrative terms, this Argentinian film is made up of six episodes connected by four actresses. This film is as inventive as it gets, as each episode corresponds to a cinematic genre… this movie is film history packaged in a colorful and inventive audiovisual box. The film reminds us of the playful Historias extraordinarias, an episodic movie that reminded viewers of early Quentin Tarantino and his deconstructed storytelling, 

Country: Colombia
Director: Alejandro Landes
Cast: Sofia Buenaventura, Julian Giraldo, Karen Quintero

Credit: Stela Cine

An intimate war film that follows a group of teenagers who train as commandos in the jungle. Evocative and high in symbolism, this Colombian film reminds us of the intense yet contemplative nature of Coppola and his Apocalypse Now. Colombian cinema is alive and well, and Monos is proof of this. Colombian filmmakers have done wonders recently in showcasing rural identities… please watch The Embrace of the Serpent (El abrazo de la serpiente) if you have not already done so. 

La camarista (The Chambermaid)
Country: Mexico
Director: Lila Avilés
Cast: Gabriela Cartol, Agustina Quinci, Teresa Sánchez

Credit: La Pantera

After Alfonso Cuarón revealed how complex the lives of domestic workers, generally indigenous women, is in Mexico, Lila Avilés offers us an intimate look into the soul of a chambermaid who works in a high end hotel. Practically invisible to the people for whom she makes beds and cleans rooms, her existence is an intricate dance of entering and exiting spaces of luxury and the labyrinth-like entrails of the hotel. Unmissable. Lila Avilés will surely become a strong voice in the Mexican and international film industries. 

Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory)
Country: Spain
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Cast: Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas

Credit: El Deseo Productions

The great Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar gives us what is perhaps his most personal film to date, and finds the perfect alter ego in one of his old collaborators, actor Antonio Banderas in what is perhaps the best role un his already legendary career. Perhaps the best film of the year regardless of language. And you know what to expect from Pedro: a colorful film with exuberant and sexy settings, gorgeous people, stabs at Spain’s fascist past and plenty of double entendres. 

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America Ferrera’s “Superstore” Is Going To Get A Spanish-Language Adaptation In A Win For Inclusion


America Ferrera’s “Superstore” Is Going To Get A Spanish-Language Adaptation In A Win For Inclusion

Fans of the hit NBC comedy Superstore may have been disappointed when it was announced that the series would be cancelled after its sixth season, but there’s good news! The series is going to get a Spanish-language version for international audiences and it will be part of a major expansion for the series. 

The show was well-known for tackling important social issues, particularly around immigration. And a Spanish-language adaptation, particularly one produced out of Mexico, will undoubtedly present an equally interesting take on immigration.

NBC comedy Superstore is getting a Spanish-language adaptation.

Although Superstore is coming to an end on NBC, and will no longer feature America Ferrera, fans of the hit series should celebrate that it’s getting a Spanish-language redo. The show, which focused on the lives of employees at a fictional big box store called Cloud 9 in Missouri, premiered in 2015 and ran for six seasons, with its sixth season set to end on March 25.

“Superstore is a bold workplace comedy with a beating heart, known for its courage to tackle important societal issues,” said Enrique Guillen, executive VP of commercial strategy and international development for Universal Studio Group. “We are grateful to partner with Dopamine to adapt Justin Spitzer’s acclaimed comedy and one of Universal Television’s biggest success stories. This pact to co-produce our valuable IP in a foreign language is the first of many such deals to come.”

The new adaptation is being made under the working title Supertitlan and has received an 48-episode order and will be adapted in Spanish for the Latin American and U.S. Hispanic markets. 

Superstore has remained one of the most popular shows at NBC in its prime. As Variety points out, the Justin Spitzer-created comedy drew in 37 million viewers during its Season 5 run from 2019 to 2020.

And it’s getting a major expansion.

 The Spanish-language adaptation already has a season one order of 48 episodes with each episode coming in at an hour long. For a series that originally consisted of 20 episodes of 30 minutes, that’s a major expansion for the show. For fans of the show, that’s a whole lot more Superstore to look forward to.

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The Royal Spanish Academy Is Becoming More Inclusive As It Officially Adds Two New And Important Words To The Language


The Royal Spanish Academy Is Becoming More Inclusive As It Officially Adds Two New And Important Words To The Language

Our society is in constant flux and with it, so is the way we express ourselves. Our ways of communicating and the words we use to do so have changed as the world changes. Just think about words like ‘computer’ or FaceTime or ‘influencer’, these words would of meant nothing to our ancestors. But to us they’ve come to carry important meanings that help us communicate.

It’s a similar argument for words that attempt to make language and communication more inclusive. Words like ‘Latinx’ and ‘Latine’ have become more mainstream as more people decide to use them. Although they’ve also become highly controversial and the debate is still out on whether or not they’ll become widely accepted.

However, just because some people may decide not to use ‘Latinx’ or ‘elle’ doesn’t mean that people who prefer to use them shouldn’t be able to. That’s exactly why the Royal Spanish Academy – which oversees the development of the Spanish language – has added several new and more inclusive words it’s so called ‘Word Observatory.’

Spain’s Royal Spanish Academy – the body that oversees the Spanish language – is making some serious updates.

In recent years, both academics and activists alike have highlighted the importance of using inclusive and non-gendered language – which isn’t exactly easy to do with Spanish. It was under this ideal that the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) decided to address the use of new terms such as the pronoun “elle”.

Last week, the academy unveiled the new design of its website, which has a more visual interface. The site includes a section called “Word Observatory” where, for the first time, the use of “elle”, “transfobia” and other words is addressed.

According to the RAE, the pronoun “elle” is a resource created and promoted in certain areas to refer to those who may not identify with either of the two traditionally existing genres. Its use is neither generalized nor established.”

The issue of more inclusive Spanish was addressed earlier this year when th RAE ruled on the request of Carmen Calvo – Spain’s Vice President. Calvo had asked the institution to consider “an inclusive” update to the language, something to help gender non-conforming and non-binary people express themselves.

Calvo’s position was seen as intending to criticize the required use of the masculine gender when referring to a group of both genders. But now that request seems to have made a difference as the academy is examining alternatives to the male and female usage.

However, it’s encouraging to see the RAE include the words in its observatory – the word isn’t officially in the Spanish dictionary.

Although the RAE clarified that “the presence of a term in its ‘Word Observatory’ does not imply that the RAE accepts its use”, the word generated confusion among several Internet users who wondered if the regulatory institution was on the way to accept more inclusive language.

Through its website the RAE says that these words are not yet part of the dictionary, since the “information is provisional”, meaning that the use of these terms is not yet recognized by the institution nor are they accepted in academic works, but they are being studied and could be added in the future.

The academy also added several other commonly used words to the official dictionary.

Credit: Victor Blanco / Getty Images

Along with the words ‘elle’ and ‘transfobia’, the academy has also added several other commonly used words by Spanish-speakers. Words like ‘bot’, ‘porfa’, ‘videollamada’, ‘influencer’, ‘guglear’, ‘loguear’, ‘ciberataque’, and ‘cruzazulear’ have all been added to the institution’s Word Observatory meaning they could soon become part of the official language.

The Word Observatory “offers information on words (or meanings of words) and expressions that currently do not appear in the dictionary but that have raised doubts, including recent neologisms, foreign words, technicalities, regionalisms, etc., according to the RAE.

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