Things That Matter

Hollywood Does Latin America: 21 Movies Shot South Of The Border

Hollywood has long been in love with Latin America. After all, it is a very diverse region in terms of natural landscape, cities and people. Production costs are also cheaper than in the United States because wages are lower and local governments often give movie studies tax breaks. Stereotypes about Latin America are also alive and well in the United States (ay, caramba, arriba, arriba) and directors often set their stories in the “exotic” and “enchanting” land bellow Rio Grande. The recent violence that has infested our region is also attractive to scriptwriters of action films and political thrillers.

Here’s 21 movies shot in our region: 

The Mosquito Coast (1986)
Location: Belize

Credit: The Mosquito Coast. Warner Bros.


This film directed by Australian Peter Weir follows the utopian dream of a father played by Harrison Ford, who sick of life in the city decides to move his family to a Central American jungle. Of course, cue the stereotypes here!  The film was shot in paradisiac Belize. Try not to cry when you see River Phoenix as Harrison’s son… a few years before his tragic death.

Titanic (1997)
Location: Mexico

Credit: Titanic. Twentieth Century Fox.


One of the highest-grossing movies of all time was shot in Rosarito, Baja California. James Cameron built a giant set that became a tourist attraction when filming wrapped up. That is the reason why there are dolphins swimming by the enormous ship when in reality there were none in the Titanic’s fateful path! 

The Tailor of Panama (2001)
Location: Panama (obviously!)

Credit: The Tailor of Panama. Columbia Pictures Corporation.


This international espionage thriller shows Panama as a corruption-laden country where geopolitical decisions are made in the dark. Panama City is shown in all its decadent splendor. Geoffrey Rush portrays a skillful tailor for the rich and powerful… who confide in him, making him quietly powerful himself. 

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
Locations: Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Cuba, Peru

Credit: The Motorcycle Diaries. FilmFour.

This amazing biopic follows Ernesto Che Guevara in his younger years, before he became a revolutionary icon. Guevara went along on a road trip throughout the continent with his friend Alberto Granado. Director Walter Salles managed to get Hollywood money to produce this authentic ode to the vastness of our region.

Star Wars: Episode IV. A New Hope (1977)
Location: Tikal, Guatemala

Credit: Star Wars: Episode IV. A New Hope. Lucasfilm.


That’s right! Remember that shot of the rebel bases in the first Star Wars movie? Did they look strangely familiar? Well, George Lucas decided to shoot in the Mayan ruins of Tikal, Guatemala. That’s a cool trivia fact you can share with your carnales eh?

Seven Years in Tibet (1997)
Location: Chile

Credit: Seven Years in Tibet. Mandalay Entertainment.


Hollywood has never been too good at respecting geographical specificity! This 1997 movie showcase Brad Pitt at the pinnacle of his fame. Brad plays a climber who became friends with the Dalai Lama when China was about to take over Tibet. Of course it was tricky to shoot in the actual Himalayas, so the production team shot in the Chilean Andes instead!

Salvador (1986)
Location: Mexico

Credit: Salvador. Orion

Mexico often works as a stand-in for all and any Latin American countries. This political thriller directed by Oliver Stone follows the fate of a gringo war photographer who gets into trouble during the brutal Salvadorian civil war in the 1980s. Stone chose the Mexican state of Morelos to appear as the Central American country even though locals have a completely different ethnicity to Salvadorians! Ah, Hollywood!

Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Location: Mexico

Credit: Romeo + Juliet. Twentieth Century Fox


Another movie starring Leo DiCaprio. This extravagant adaptation of the classic romance by William Shakespeare was shot in iconic sites in Mexico City such as the Castillo de Chapultepec, as well as the sweaty beaches of Veracruz.  Director Baz Luhrmann made sure the colors and surreal imagery of Mexico really pop on the screen! 

Quantum of Solace (2008)
Location: Chile (awk-ward!)

Credit: Quantum of Solace. MGM.


The location of this film is problematic: the action is supposed to take place in Bolivia, but it is in fact shot in the Chilean desert. Problem is that region has been disputed by these two countries, and it is a touchy subject to say the least. Talk about being insensitive! 

Proof of Life (2000)
Location: Ecuador

Credit: Proof of Life. Castle Rock Entertainment.


The chatter about this Taylor Hackford film had to do more with the passion that sparked between the protagonists Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe than for the film itself. Still, it shows some pretty amazing natural scenery that makes Ecuador one of the most biodiverse and gorgeous countries in the planet. 

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
Location: Puerto Rico

Credit: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Disney.


La isla bonita  was chosen by director Rob Marshall to be the backdrop of Captain Sparrows escapades. Given that Puerto Rico was one of the epicenters of pirate culture in the nineteenth century, and that the island is amazing, this makes for an ideal location for one of the last installments of the franchise. 

The Night of the Iguana (1964)
Location: Mexico

Credit: The Night of the Iguana. MGM


This is the movie that made Liz Taylor fall in love with Puerto Vallarta, which then became a touristy hotspot. Taylor herself wasn’t in the film, but she was coming along with hubby Richard Burton, who starred in this John Huston movie. The beach scenes are iconic and show the best of the Mexican pacific coast.

Nacho Libre (2006)
Location: Mexico (pero por supuesto)

Credit: Nacho Libre. Paramount Pictures.


More than one lucha libre fan was worried when news broke out that Jack Black was going to star in a wrestler movie. Were the gringos just going to make a racist spectacle? Surprise! Director Jared Hess really did his homework and the movie is a colorful homage shot in iconic wrestling dens in Mexico City.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
Location: Ecuador

Credit: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Miramax.


Another Peter Weir film. This naval adventure brings out our inner child and puts it in touch with our sense of discovery. The film follows Russel Crowe as Capt. Jack Aubrey, a British sailor who pursues a French vessel in South America. The scenes when they touch land in Ecuador are beautifully shot.

Apocalypto (2006)
Location: Mexico

Credit: Apocalypto. Twentieth Century Fox.


For all the things that Mel Gibson got wrong in this movie about the ancient Maya (who DID NOT have human sacrifices, those were the Aztecs, Mr. Gibson), the location was spot on. The jungle of Southern Mexico is the perfect backdrop for this gorgeously shot, action-packed chase.

Evita (1996)
Location: Argentina

Credit: Evita. Buena Vista Pictures.


Talk about a controversial film. Evita is one of the most discussed political figures in Latin American history and her legacy is still a touchy topic in Argentina. Director Alan Parker cast Madonna as the leader, which added injury to insult. The production shot in iconic buildings with the support of the government. At the end, it is a pretty decent and somewhat respectful musical. 

The Revenant (2015)
Location: Argentina

Credit: The Revenant. Twentieth Century Fox.


The movie that finally got Leo DiCaprio his Best Actor Oscar really tested his limits. This tale of survival and revenge was shot under extreme conditions in Patagonia, where the icy natural landscape squeezed every inch of energy off the cast and crew. One thing is for sure: the far corner of the world is sure pretty!

Elysium (2013)
Location: Mexico

Credit: Elysium. TriStar Pictures


What do you do if you want to shoot an apocalyptic version of Los Angeles? According to director Neil Blomkamp you head to the outskirts of Mexico City. This failed sci-fi movie does everything wrong: it takes advantage of a struggling sector of Mexican society to present what future poverty in Los Angeles is supposed to look like. Shame on them!

Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Location: Brazil

Credit: Captain America: Civil War. Marvel Studios.


The Marvel Universe has travelled throughout the world, and the confrontation between Iron Man and Captain America happened with glorious Brazil as the backdrop. Remember those explosions in the high-security compound? Welcome to South America!

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)
Location: Dominican Republic

Credit: xXx: Return of Xander Cage. Paramount.


This return of the xXx franchise sees Xander (Vin Diesel) the hero retired in paradisiac Dominican Republic (he faked his death to be left alone), only to be brought back to action by is former CIA accomplices.

Operation Finale (2018)
Location: Argentina

Credit: Operation Finale. Netlix.


One of the most recent and critically acclaimed Netflix movies tells the story of a Israeli secret operation to locate and capture a Nazi war criminal in Argentina (masterfully played by Ben Kingsley).

Nickelodeon Wants Kids To See More Multicultural And Diverse Content, So They’re Launching Mexican-Inspired Show “The Casagrandes”

Entertainment

Nickelodeon Wants Kids To See More Multicultural And Diverse Content, So They’re Launching Mexican-Inspired Show “The Casagrandes”

TheCasaGrandes / Instagram

Nickelodeon announced this year that the network wants to focus on giving kids a more “multicultural, authentic and diverse” array of programming that will reflect modern kids’ everyday lives. The kids’ outlet plans to serve just that, in “The Casagrandes,” a companion series to its animated mainstay, “The Loud House,” about a small boy and his many sisters. The new program will follow Lincoln Loud’s friend Ronnie Anne and her brother Bobby Santiago living in the city with a chaotic multi-generational family. 

The kids’ network is actively working on bringing diversity to children through their programming.

According to Cyma Zarghami, president of the company’s Nickelodeon Group and a kids-media veteran; Nickelodeon will be focusing on series that present broader families and more characters from a broader array of backgrounds, said Zarghami, noting that modern kids want to see shows that mirror the people in their lives. “Multicultural, authentic and diverse,” are the themes they seek, she added.

“The Casagrandes” is a spinoff of Nickelodeon’s animated hit mainstay show “The Loud House”. 

Credit: theloudhousecartoon / Instagram

Children who watch Nickelodeon on the regular, will be familiar with Ronnie Anne from the hit series, “The Loud House,” which is similar to “The Casagrandes” in that they both navigate a kid’s life surrounded by a large family. The new show however, will add diversity to the network in terms of race. “The loud house” does so with gender, by focusing on a boy named Lincoln Loud living with his family of 10 sisters —all of whom have different personalities and ambitions which break with female stereotypes.

With “The Casagrandes”, Nickelodeon is taking the next step towards diversity by exploring a female character more deeply. 

On “The Loud House” Ronnie Anne Santiago is a character frequently presented as a tough tomboy figure who dislikes girly things. As the show progresses thought, the audience finds out that she is actually very sensitive and kind. Her brother, Bobby Santiago Jr. is also a recurring character as the boyfriend of Lori Loud, Lincoln’s sister. Roberto “Bobby” Santiago Jr. will be playing a much larger role in “The Casagrandes.”

Nickelodeon teased the new show during an episode of “The Loud House”.

Credit: thecasagrandes / Instagram

The network teased the upcoming spinoff in a recent episode of “The Loud House,” which was entirely about Ronnie Anne and Bobby, rather than Lincoln Loud, the protagonist of the series. In the episode, Ronnie Anne and her brother move to their extended family’s apartment in the city, which rests on top of a bodega. 

At first, Ronnie Anne is reticent about moving since she’s used to living with her small family of three. Soon she adjusts to living with all her relatives under one roof. The episode, which served as an introduction to Ronnie Anne’s extended family, is also an introduction to Latino culture. Throughout the episode, the show makes references that resonate with Latinos everywhere, such as the way that Ronnie Anne’s abuelita ‘Rosa’, persists on her family members and guests eating until they’re completely stuffed. 

The show makes many references to Latino culture and traditions through relatable characters like ‘Rosa’, the family’s abuela.

The overbearing grandmother is a Latino stereotype that largely, seems to be true to most Latinos, and a lot of Latinx children in the audience might be able to relate. The episode plays with that idea by having Rosa go way overboard with her cooking anytime someone mentions they’re hungry. Rosa also frequently makes home remedies when someone in her family gets hurt —another reference to the Latino community and the all too familiar ‘remedios caseros’ we have to endure when grandma finds out we have a tummy-ache or a fever. 

Lincoln and his family live in a suburban, mostly white-predominant town, while Ronnie Anne will be living in an urban area, surrounded by people of multicultural backgrounds. In the episode that teased the upcoming show “Los Casagrandes”, Ronnie Anne makes friends with several kids in the city, many of whom are also people of color. “Los Casagrandes” will reflect the city life by situating characters in different parts of the city. The Casagrande apartment and the family’s bodega, will be found in the Spanish-speaking neighborhoods.

Ronnie Anne, the protagonist, offers an intersectional lens on what it means to be both female and a POC.

By having Ronnie Anne as a protagonist, the show will offer an intersectional lens on what it’s like to explore her life as both a female and a person of color. In similar fashion to “The Loud House”, the characters will have diverse personalities, but instead of seeing the identities and narratives through female characters as seen through Lincoln Loud’s 10 sisters, the new show will present differences through Latino characters, specifically characters of Mexican culture. 

“The Casagrandes,” premieres Monday, Oct. 14, at 1:30 p.m. ET/PT before moving to its regular timeslot on Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. beginning on Oct. 19.

A Newly Restored Version of The 90s ‘Selena’ Classic Film Starring Jennifer Lopez Is Coming To The Big Screen Again

Entertainment

A Newly Restored Version of The 90s ‘Selena’ Classic Film Starring Jennifer Lopez Is Coming To The Big Screen Again

Selena /Warner Bros.

Twenty-two years have passed since Latinas across the globe watched in awe as Jennifer Lopez took on the role of Tejano music icon Selena in the biopic of her life. The 1997 classic lovingly spotlighted the singer’s life and death years ago and, in the years since, has been a sort of cultural Latino touchstone for young girls who didn’t have the chance to grow up watching the singer herself.

Now, young Latinas who didn’t get to see the classic in the theaters during its original release will have a chance to do just that this weekend.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music has announced that it will screen a new digital print of the film in theaters this weekend.

Back in 1997, when the film was originally released, “Selena” spent fifteen weeks at the box office. It’s time in theaters proved that Latinos could not only direct films, but they could star in them as well while also drawing massive audiences to movie theater seats. At the time, the film marked a breakout moment for actress, singer, and dancer Jennifer Lopez.

If you’re in NYC this weekend and plan on attending the screening, here are some fun facts to remember while watching!

Fans of Selena protested when they learned Jennifer Lopez was playing Selena.

Selena /Warner Bros.

Selena’s fans began protesting the film once they learned that Jennifer Lopez was taking on the role of their beloved singer. Many thought that Lopez, a Puerto Rican from New York, was unfit to play the Mexican-American from Texas.

Six other women gave J.Lo a run for her money.

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Selena /Warner Bros.

Three women from the open call were selected and three other actresses including Salma Hayek and Bibi Gaytán were considered.

Jackie Guerra lied about her talents.

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Selena /Warner Bros.

Jackie Guera who played the role of Suzette, wanted the role so badly that she lied at her audition and said that she was an expert drummer. Suzette later gave her private lessons.

“Selena” almost became a victim of brownface.

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Selena /Warner Bros.

The film’s director had to fight to get Lopez the role of Selena. At the time, Warner Bros was considering a non-Latina actress to take on the role which would have been AWFUL.

Jennifer Lopez lip-synched

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Selena /Warner Bros.

Creators feared that fans would be upset if they saw Lopez singing the song on her own. So Lopez was coached to lip-synch instead.

Abraham Quintanilla didn’t want to show Selena’s murder.

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Selena /Warner Bros.

The film which came out just two years after Selena’s death was likely a very hard project for Abraham to work on. He didn’t want to show his daughter’s death but the film’s director convinced him it was necessary.

Constance Marie could be Jennifer Lopez’s sister.

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Selena /Warner Bros.

Lopez and Marie play mother and daughter in the movie. But in real life, Marie is only 4 years older than Jennifer Lopez.