Must-See Latin American Films
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Picture this: you’ve completed your TEFL certificate and have just landed your dream job teaching in a small town in Brazil. You have never been to Brazil before, let alone South America. Yes, you may have briefly learned about South American countries in your world history classes in your previous years of education, but that alone is not enough.
When travelling abroad, it’s important to understand at least some of the basic languages in order to communicate effectively. But another important component is understanding a bit of the country’s cultural and artistic roots. Whether it be by reading up on their popular literature or watching a documentary about key cultural events in history, being familiar with your destination’s cultural and social life can make your experience all the more fulfilling.
Getting yourself familiarized with the culture is crucial to anyone travelling or teaching abroad, and here is our list of must-see Latin American films before you visit. They cover a range of topics including documentaries, dramas, and comedies.
1. No (2012)
Directed by Pablo Larrain and released in 2012, No is a film set in Chile during their 1988 plebiscite, a national referendum to determine whether Chile’s de facto leader, Augusto Pinochet, should extend his rule for another eight years.
The story follows Rene, an advertising consultant who was approached by the “No” side to work on their campaign. Rene has to struggle to keep his involvement a secret, as his boss is the one who ends up landing the role to lead the “Yes” campaign.
The film unfolds as each night, both sides receive 15 minutes of airtime on national television to present their case. Rene’s marketing approach is similar to that of the American Cola Wars. It is lighthearted and promotes a sense of togetherness, while the “Yes” side depicts Pinochet’s leadership as an economic success.
No is an epic story about Chile’s history and how one ad campaign helped persuade Chileans to defeat an extremely oppressive dictatorship. Although it is fictionalized, viewers can still learn a lot about Chile’s political history. It is a story of hope that a nation can overcome even the worst circumstances.
Watch Now on Prime Video.
2. Jungle (2017)
Based on the novel by Yossi Ghinsberg, Jungle is a biographical survival film released in 2017. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe and is based on the true story of Ghinsberg’s 1981 journey into the Amazon rainforest.
Although the film is not directed by a South American native, the film depicts the adventurous spirit of Yossi as he travels to Bolivia. After befriending Swiss teacher, Marcus Stamm, and American photographer, Keven Gale, they set off on an expedition into the wild Amazon. Led by Karl Ruprechter, an Austrian on a mission to find hidden gold, the three embark on a journey that does not go according to plan.
As the three take on the harsh and unforgiving terrain of the Amazon rainforest, getting separated and forced to do whatever they can to stay alive, the film does an excellent job of showcasing Yossi’s story of bravery and determination. Not only is the film a testament to the psychological and physical struggles man can overcome, but it is also a story of camaraderie and inspiration. Yossi is an embodiment of the free-spirited, adventurous dreamer that is inside all of us.
The Amazon Rainforest is the world’s largest rainforest at roughly 2.72 million square acres. That is nearly equivalent to 48 states in the U.S, covering about 40 per cent of the South American continent. It is such a huge part of so many South American countries’ cultures, with the rainfall and river feeding regions that generate 70 per cent of South America’s GDP. Learning a bit about its origins would definitely be beneficial before you set out on your travelling abroad adventure!
Watch Now on Amazon Prime.
3. Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
Released in 2004 and directed by Brazilian Walter Salles, Motorcycle Diaries (Diarios de motocicleta) is a biopic about the 1952 journey and written memoirs of the 23-year-old Ernesto Guevara. Several years later, he would become well known as Che Guevara, the infamous Marxist guerilla leader.
Not only is this a story that reveals the injustices of social classes and the political structures of Latin America, but it is also a coming-of-age film packed with adventure and excitement. Guevara and his friend Alberto originally begin their trip across South America by motorcycle, but they hit many obstacles along the way.
As a young man, Guevara finds himself physically called to action to do more for the impoverished and struggling indigenous peoples. These two men are faced with injustices that they never would have been exposed to. Their journey sparks the flame of radicalization and cognitive dissonance in Guevara.
The film is based on the real journals of Che Guevara, as he recounts his adventures with his friends and the early beginnings of what would cause him to become the leader of the Cuban Revolution.
Guevara’s encounters with social injustice transform his life and motivate him to become a revolutionary and fight for change. The two friends journey across Argentina, Chile, Peru, Columbia, and Venezuela until finally reaching their destination at a medical residency at a leper colony.
The film is a must-see for those travelling abroad to South America in the hopes of both finding themselves and pursuing their goals, no matter how far-fetched or extraordinary. It is a great take on exploring the injustices of Latin America’s cultural, social, and political injustices.
Watch on various streaming services here.
4. The Maid (2009)
A nice combination of drama and light-hearted comedy, The Maid is a film that follows Raquel, a maid who has been serving a wealthy Chilean family, the Valdes, for more than two decades.
When Raquel’s health begins to suffer due to years of exposure to harmful cleaning chemicals, the family decides to hire additional maids to assist her.
However, Raquel takes this as an extreme sign of disrespect and engages in multiple attempts to oust every new maid that enters the house. The film reflects the relationship between hired help and employers in South America, as they are grossly underpaid, undervalued, and frequently at the tail end of jokes in movies.
Through this comedic drama, viewers are able to understand more about family dynamics and class structure in South American countries. The “help” is expected to be on call all hours of the day for their employers, all in exchange for a room to sleep and a dreadful wage. Add this to your list before travelling abroad!
Watch Now on Tubi or Prime Video.
5. The Year my Parents Went on Vacation (2006)
Released in 2006 in Portuguese by director Cao Hamburger, this film follows the story of Mauro, a 12-year-old boy who is sent to live with his godfather in 1970. His parents are political left-wing activists who are on the run from the politically repressive Brazilian government.
Amidst the country’s fear of political persecution, they are also dealing with their enthusiasm for the upcoming World Cup. Unfortunately, Mauro’s grandfather dies shortly after he arrives, and he is left alone in Bom Retiro, a working-class Jewish neighbourhood. Shlomo, an elderly religious Jew and neighbour of Mauro’s grandfather, takes him in and the entire community supports him while he struggles with the departure of his parents.
The film follows Mauro as he searches for his identity and learns to accept help from others, even the most unsuspecting of people. As the Brazilian football team gets closer to bringing home the World Cup, Mauro continues to struggle with the absence of his parents.
The film is an inspiring tale about the importance of community and self-discovery. Perhaps one of the greatest lessons of the film is that the act of waiting is never stagnant, it is always developing and changing. New opportunities and relationships can arrive at any moment, and one can really find themselves along the way.
Mauro’s story is one of hope and acceptance. Oftentimes one’s hopes are not always achieved in the ways previously anticipated. This inspiring tale is a must-watch for those travelling abroad.
Buy on DVD here.
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LAST UPDATED: 27th August 2021
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Everything TEFL Ltd retains personal information in line with our corporate retention requirements. Your data will be stored within the European Economic Area (“the EEA”) (The EEA consists of all EU member states, plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). However, in some circumstances, part or all of your data may be stored or transferred outside of the European Economic Area (“the EEA”). You are deemed to accept and agree to this by using our site and submitting information to us. If we do store or transfer data outside the EEA, we will take all reasonable steps to ensure that your data is treated as safely and securely as it would be within the EEA and under the GDPR. Such steps may include, but not be limited to, the use of legally binding contractual terms between us and any third parties we engage with, and the use of the EU-approved Model Contractual Arrangements. If we intend at any time to transfer any of your data outside the EEA, we will always obtain your consent beforehand.
Right to access personal information
- Under the law, any individual has a right to ask for a copy of the personal information held about them. This means that you can ask for the information that Everything TEFL Ltd holds about you. This is known as the right of ‘subject access’.
- When making a request you will need to give us:
- a request in writing (by post or by email)
- We may need to ask you to provide:
- proof of your identity
- proof of your home address
- any information that we reasonably need to locate the information you have requested (for example details of the Everything TEFL Ltd offices or staff that you have had contact with and when)
We will not start looking for your information until we receive all of the above. In order to submit your request, or for help making a request, please contact us.
Rights concerning the processing of your personal information
- Right to restrict processing of personal information
- In some situations, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of your personal information. We may restrict your personal information by temporarily moving the information to another processing system, making the information unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published information from a website. We may also use technical methods to ensure the personal information is not subject to further processing and cannot be changed. When we have restricted processing of personal information, this will be clearly indicated on our systems.
- You can require us to restrict processing in the following circumstances:
- You are concerned that the information we hold about you is inaccurate. You can ask us to restrict the information until we can determine whether the information is accurate or inaccurate.
- We are processing your personal data unlawfully and you do not want us to delete the information but restrict it instead.
- We no longer need the information for the purposes for which we collected it, but they are needed by you for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by Everything TEFL Ltd but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that Everything TEFL Ltd securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to Everything TEFL Ltd collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think Everything TEFL Ltd has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the Everything TEFL Ltd processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the Everything TEFL Ltd has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, Everything TEFL Ltd is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the Everything TEFL Ltd.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to Everything TEFL Ltd, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
Everything TEFL Ltd
28 – 32 Pembroke Street,
Republic of Ireland
Telephone: +353 (1) 554 6227
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.