Wednesday, December 2, 2009


DiazFilm, in association with Cinema Tropical, today unveiled the Top Ten Latin American Films of the Decade, as chosen by a select group of New York film professionals whose work has been focused on the promotion and dissemination of Latin American cinema in NY and the U.S. Lucrecia Martel's seminal "La cienaga" took the top spot on the list. Rather than writing a separate article, I'll just post part of the press release we drafted, which has now made its way to news agencies all over Latin America and the world:


New York, December 1, 2009 – Cinema Tropical, the premier purveyor of Latin American cinema in the U.S., has compiled a list of the Top Ten Latin American Films of the Decade (2000-2009) based on a survey of distinguished critics, scholars and film professionals based in the New York City area.

The respected Argentine director Lucrecia Martel, accomplished an amazing feat by making the top ten with the three films she has directed to date. Her first film La Ciénaga got the first place spot and she also occupies the eighth and ninth spots with La mujer sin cabeza (The Headless Woman) and La niña santa (The Holy Girl) respectively.

Under the initiative and coordination of filmmaker and blogger Mario Díaz ( this first-ever survey of its kind was culled from 33 prominent local voices in film whose work has been devoted to the promotion and dissemination of Latin American cinema in New York and the United States. In all, 122 films representing 13 Latin American countries were nominated for the distinction of being Best of the Decade, demonstrating the great quality and diversity of films from the region.

“The project of creating this list had a two-fold intention, on one hand to serve as a promotional campaign to honor all the great film work that the region has produced in the past few years, and secondly to pay some kind of tribute to the professionals that have helped promote Latin American cinema in this city” says Carlos A. Gutiérrez, co-founding director of Cinema Tropical.

The so-called “Three Amigos,” Mexican directors Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mamá También), Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) and Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros) all made the top ten. Their three breakout films earned a combined $56 million dollars at the U.S. box office alone, elevating each of them to A-list status. Indeed the “Three Amigos” went on to direct such high-profile international films as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Cuarón), Hellboy II (Del Toro), and Babel (González Iñárritu). In 2006, they joined forces to form a production company called Cha Cha Cha Films.

Argentina is the country with the most films on the overall list with 43 mentions, whilst Mexico has four films in the first ten places. However, Brazil has a significant presence throughout the survey with 30 films out of 122 films mentioned. This includes two in the top ten: Fernando Meirelles’ City of God at number four and the documentary feature Bus 174 by directors José Padilha and Felipe Lacerda at number five. Looking at the top twenty-five, Karim Ainouz’s Madame Satâ came in at number 14, while the feature documentaries Santiago by Joâo Salles and Jogo de Cena by Eduardo Coutinho came in at 20 and 22 respectively.

Despite the fact that many of the films in the list never had a US theatrical release and that Latin American cinema is not yet widely seen in the U.S., the list demonstrates that there is a wealth of films being produced in the region year after year, and that cinephiles outside the country (or at least in New York) are taking notice. For example, Brazilian director Eduardo Coutinho, who remains largely unknown to audiences in America, has four films on the overall list: Jogo de cena (Playing, #22), Edificio Master (Master, a Building in Copacabana, #27), Peões (Metalworkers, #45), and O fim e o principio (The End and the Beginning #78).

Other notable performers include Argentine filmmaker Pablo Trapero who has four films included in the list, fellow Argentine Carlos Sorín with three, and Mexican arthouse favorite Carlos Reygadas who has three films as well, including the top ten entry Silent Light (#3) and Japón (#14).

“Best Of” lists usually favor recent releases, but the participants of this survey stuck to quality and personal taste as the principal criteria for their selections. The result is a balanced list made up of picks from the entire decade. In fact, six of the films in the top ten were released in 2004 or before.

“The decade that is about to conclude marked a turning point in Latin American cinema. Never before did Latin American films enjoy such critical and box office success internationally and in the U.S.” says Mario Díaz and adds, “this list is not only a powerful reminder of the great quality and abundance of films that emerged from Latin America in the last 10 years but also a celebration of Latin American cinema’s coming-of-age, for it is now considered at par with the world’s best.”

The Top 10 Latin American Films of the Decade are:

1) La Ciénaga Lucrecia Martel Argentina 2001

2) Amores Perros Alejandro González Mexico 2000

3) Luz silenciosa Carlos Reygadas Mexico 2007
(Silent Light)

4) Cidade de Deus Fernando Meirelles Brazil 2002
(City of God)

5) Ônibus 174 (Bus 174) José Padilha, Brazil 2002
Felipe Lacerda

6) Y tu mamá también Alfonso Cuarón Mexico 2001

7) Whisky Juan Pablo Rebella, Uruguay 2004
Pablo Stoll

8) La mujer sin cabeza Lucrecia Martel Argentina 2008
(The Headless Woman)

9) La niña santa Lucrecia Martel Argentina 2004
(The Holy Girl)

10) El laberinto del fauno Guillermo del Toro Mexico/Spain 2006
(Pan’s Labyrinth)

To view the complete list of films, participants, and individual selections please visit:

In case you were wondering, these are my personal selections:

1) Y tú mama también (2001) Mexico
2) La mujer sin cabeza (2008) Argentina
3) La nana (2009) Chile
4) Diarios de motocicleta (2004) Argentina
5) Bus 174 (2002) Brazil
6) Los guantes mágicos (2003) Argentina
7) Cama adentro (2005) Argentina
8) Cidade de Deus (2002) Brazil
9) Turistas (2009) Chile
10) El camino de San Diego (2006) Argentina