Welcome to Cine Español y Latino Americano
Watching Spanish movies, TV shows and documentaries, is a great way to get inspired to travel Spain or Latin America. I watched many South American films before my four-month trip to the continent and loved the insight and entertainment they provided.
Even whilst watching Spanish films with English subtitles, you will still get a sense of the culture and its people, the language and communication. So here are our picks of the most critically acclaimed and entertaining Spanish language films to inspire travel.
We’ve split this list into three regional sections to make selecting the movie that’s right for you, as easy as possible: 1) Spain 2) Central America & Caribbean 3) South America.
Read more: Do you think you could travel all the way from Scotland to Australia without flying?
Spanish Movies, TV & Documentaries
Vis a Vis (Locked Up) – 2015
A prison drama, in which a young, naive woman gets imprisoned – perhaps correctly, perhaps wrongly. You could describe this as Spain’s version of Orange Is The New Black
TV Show – Channel 4 Walter Presents – 8.2/10 IMDB / 97% Google users
Hable Con Ella (Talk To Her) – 2002
Two men share an odd friendship, while they care for two women who are both in deep comas. A tale of chance encounters a creepy obsession.
Film – Putlocker – 8/10 IMDB / 92% Rotten Tomato
The Skin I Live In – 2011
Antonio Banderas plays a rogue surgeon, acting like god. This creepy thriller, set in the picturesque regions just outside Madrid, is a compelling watch.
Film – BFI Player – 7.6/10 IMDB / 80% Rotten Tomato.
This is the original, Spanish language version of Vanilla Sky with Penelope Cruz. Such a compelling story, that it spawned the USA remake and was the catalyst to Cruz’s/Cruise relationship off-set.
Film – F Movies – 7.8 IMDB / 85% Rotten Tomato
Biutiful – 2010
Uxbal, a career criminal, plies his trade in Barcelona’s underground back alleys. Whilst involved in illegal activity and unlike many criminals, he hasn’t lost his respect for the working class but hits upon challenging circumstances when he falls terribly ill.
Film – Putlocker – 7.5 IMDB / 65% RT
A pioneering film in terms of topics, two teenage friends set about making an autobiographical film of their former years, at catholic boarding school. The movie follows a transvestite performer as she reconnects with a childhood sweetheart.
Film – Solar Movies – 7.5 IMDB / 81% Metacritic
Spain Guides: If you are planning on heading to Spain, then we’d highly recommend visiting Seeking The Spanish Sun blog for perhaps the most comprehensive guides to Spain on the internet.
A young boy is starting school in Spain 1936 but is intimidated at the prospect. He is set at ease by his kind teacher but as civil war breaks out, their fortunes will be changed forever.
Film – Vimeo – 7.6 IMDB / 96% RT
Tesis (Thesis) – 1998
A film student makes a worrying discovery, when she comes across a video tape of a coed being tortured and then murdered. A previous winner of the Primio Goya best film award at the Spanish film awards.
Film – Putlockers – 7.5 IMDB / 71% RT
Main character Manuela, experiences trauma through grief, as a car runs over her son. This sets her on a path of looking for the father of her recently departed son, who to her suprise, has now become a transvestite.
Film – Putlockers – 7.9 IMDB / 87% Metacritic
Vigo, a port town on the coast of Spain, has fallen on difficult times. The shipbuilding industry, which was the main source of work, has laid off many employees and the town is entering crisis.
Film – Google Play – 7.7 IMDB / 80% RT
Blancanieves – 2013
A black and white, silent dram film where after being rescued from her evil stepmother by dwarves, a young woman becomes a matador (bullfighter) like her late father.
Film – BFI Film Player – 7.5 IMDB / 94% RT
Mar Adentro (The Sea Inside) – 2004
Ramón is a Spanish nautical mechanic and part-time poet who is left a quadriplegic after a terrible diving accident. This film tells the true story of Ramon’s 30-year flight for the legal right to euthanasia and to end his own life.
Film – YouTube – 8 IMDB / 74% Metacritic
Pans Labyrinth – 2006
The multi-award-winning film by the amazing Guillermo del Toro. Based around the time of the 1944 Spanish civil war, this fantastical tale is one of Spain’s greatest of all time.
Film – 123 Movies – 98% Metacritic / 93% Rotten Tomato
Central American TV Shows & Films
El Chapo – 2017, Mexico
The dramatised story of a real life Mexican drug boss. Chapo Guzman is as high-profile an outlaw as Pablo Escobar and the DEA are just as eager to bring him down.
TV Show – Netflix – 7.9 IMDB / 95% Google Users
Amores Perros – 2000, Mexico
A horrific car accident connects three stories, each involving characters dealing with loss, regret, and the harsh realities of life, all in the name of love. A true classic of Latin American cinema.
Film – 8.1 IMDB – 92% RT
Like Water for Chocolate – 1993, Mexico
In a forgotten Mexico village, a couple named Tita and Pedro fall in love, but their marriage is forbidden in line with the traditions of their hometown.
Film – Netflix – 7.2 IMDB / 91% RT
Una Noche – 2012, Cuba
Raul dreams of escaping to Miami from Cuba. When he is accused of assault, he convinces a friend, Elio to help him cross the ocean and escape his troubles.
Film – 6.8 IMDB / 82% RT
El Mariachi – 1993, Mexico
The film that started it all for multi-award winning director, Robert Rodriguez. A travelling guitar player hides his hitman profession in an ingenious way, to help him get he job done discreetly.
Movie – 6.9 IMDB / 93% RT
Y Mama tu Tambien – 2001, Mexico
Julio and Tenoch, like most teenagers, are ruled by raging hormones and intense friendships. Over the course of summer, these best two friends, after meeting a gorgeous older woman, also find kinship with themselves and world around them.
Film – YouTube – 7.7 IMDB / 92% Rotten Tomato
Mala Mala – 2014, Puerto Rica
Mala Mala is a Puerto Rican documentary directed by Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles. The film stars Jason “April” Carrión, Samantha Close and Ivana Fred and several members of the local transgender community, as they go about their lives.
Documentary – Netflix – 6.6 IMDB / 92% Rotten Tomato
Music: Want to immerse yourself in to South American music culture whilst you travel too? Then check out our Latin American music playlist here.
South American Movies, TV & Documentaries
El Hijo de la Novia (Son of the Bride) – 2001, Argentina
In his forties, Rafael Belvedere is having a mid-life-crisis, overwhelmed by his responsibilities and not enjoying life. Just when Rafael feels at his most alone and unable to reach out for help, a series of unexpected turns lead him to reevaluate life.
Film – Netflix – 7.9 IMDB / 86% RT
Narcos – 2016, Colombia
The story of the Colombian drug cartels war against the Colombian government, rival gangs and USA DE. Not endorsed or supported by the remaining family of Pablo Escobar but a fairly balanced account.
TV Show – Netflix – 8.9/10 IMDB / 89% RT
Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales) – 2014, Argentina
A waitress adds a special ingredient to the meal of an arrogant loan shark’s in one of a collection of stories, dealing with the extremes of human behavior, our sense of self and how people relate to each other.
Film – 123 – 8.1 IMDB / 95% Rotten Tomato
El Secreto de sus Ojos (The Secret In Their Eyes) – 2010, Argentina
Hoping to put to rest years thoughts of a troubling past case, retired police investigator Benjamín Espósito, starts writing a powerful novel based on the decades-old unsolved crime of a newly married woman’s rape and murder.
Film – Netflix – 8.2 IMDB / 91% Rotten Tomato
Ciudade de Deus (City Of God) – 2002, Brazil
In the poverty-stricken favelas of Rio de Janeiro in the 70s, two young friends choose different paths. Rocket is a budding photographer who documents the increasing drug-related violence of his neighborhood. Jose choses to become a drug dealer.
Film – 8.6 IMDB / 91% RT
No – 2012, Chile
An internationally co-produced film directed by Pablo Larraín and based on the play El Plebiscito. Mexican actor Gael García Bernal plays René, an in-demand advertising man working in Chile in the late 1980s.
Film – Putlocker – 7.4 IMDB / 81% Metacritic
Maria, Llena eres de Gracia (Maria Full of Grace) – 2004, Colombia
Seventeen-year-old Colombian Maria is pregnant and with a large family to care for. As she’s forced to leave a demanding job after an altercation with her boss she turns to desperate measures.
Film – F – 7.5 IMDB / 87% Metacritic
La Vendedora de Rosa (The Rose Seller) – 1998, Colombia
A 13-year-old girl, Lady Tabares and her other teen friends wander around the streets of Medellin to avoid bleak home lives. A stark portrait of how Colombia was during the cartel years.
Film – 7.4 IMDB / 91% Google Users
Machuca – 2004, Chile
Pedro, who comes from a modest family, is admitted to an elite Catholic boarding school, where he makes friends with a privileged boy, Gonzalo. As they spend time with one another, their relationship is strained by the turbulent social and political upheaval happening in Chile.
Film – Putlocker – 7.8 IMDB / 89% RT
Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens) – 2000, Argentina
The story of two small-time crooks, Juan and Marcos, who team up after a chance meeting in a convenience store and become entangled in a half million-dollar scam. A richly tangled and entertaining web of lies.
Movie – YouTube – 7.9 IMDB / 92% RT
Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad) – 2010, Brazil
A captain in the special Brazilian police force considers which of two most recent new recruits would make a suitable successor, in this thrilling Brazilian popcorn flick. A huge box-office smash in its native country.
Movie – YouTube – 8.1 IMBD / 53% RT
Desde Alla (From Afar) – 2015, Venezuela
A reclusive, middle-aged, gay man pursues a relationship with the teenage thug who beat him up during their first encounter. Exploring the unlikely link between these two men is at the centre of the great film.
Film – PL – 82% Google Users / 4/5 Guardian
La Teta Asustada (The Milk of Sorrow) – 2009, Peru
Fausta is suffering from a rare condition called the Milk of Sorrow, transmitted through the breast milk of ladies who were abused or raped around the time of pregnancy. A powerful and emotive film.
Film – 123 – 81% RT / 75% Google Users
Whiskey – 2005, Uruguay
A Cannes-winning film in which Jacobo Koller runs a run-down sock factory and leads a life of quiet desperation. When his more successful brother Herman announces a surprise visit after many years’ absence, Jacobo is desperate to prove he’s successful, with comical results.
Movie – Amazon Stream – 7.2 IMDB / 4/5 Fandor
Crónicas – 2004, Ecuador
Ecuadorian thriller, written and directed by Sebastián Cordero. The film follows a journalist who witnesses the death of a young boy by a travelling salesman and things start to spiral out of control.
Film – Fandor – IMDB 6.9 / Rot Tom 72%
7 Boxes – 2012, Paraguay
Under pressure to keep his job due to losing a valued customer through incompetence, a young worker attempts to impressive his bosses. The teen attempts to deliver seven crates and the rules are simple: deliver or die.
Film – Tubi – 7.5 IMDB / 4/5 Roger Ebert
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