Wednesday, December 2, 2009



New York, December 2, 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, 121 films representing 14 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 37 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 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, #44), and O fim e o principio (The End and the Beginning #75).

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.”

Cinema Tropical is a New York-based 501(c)(3) non-profit media arts organization dedicated to the promotion, programming and distribution of Latin American cinema in the U.S. Funded in 2001 by Carlos A. Gutiérrez and Mónika Wagenberg, Cinema Tropical has become the leading purveyor of Latin American cinema in the U.S. by having established a screening circuit in twelve venues in North America, having built a film library of over 35 titles and having worked on numerous marketing and promotional campaigns for several film releases and series.

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 (Silent Light) Carlos Reygadas Mexico 2007

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

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 (The Holy Girl) Lucrecia Martel Argentina 2004

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

SURVEY PARTICIPANTS (in alphabetical order):
Inés Aslán, film programmer; Graciela Berger Wegsman, playwright/journalist, New York Daily News, Hora Hispana; Rodrigo Brandão, Director of Publicity, Kino International; Fabiano Canosa, film programmer; Jerry W. Carlson, film professor, The City College & Graduate Center CUNY; Rebeca Conget, VP Acquisitions and Distribution, Film Movement; Gerard Dapena, scholar of Hispanic cinemas and visual culture; Christian Del Moral, film blogger, CineLatinoNY; Mario Díaz, filmmaker/film blogger; Howard Feinstein, film critic, Screen / programmer, Panorama and Sarajevo Film Festival; Cristina Garza, International Sales and Distribution, FiGa Films; Marcela Goglio, programmer, Latinbeat (Film Society of Lincoln Center); Pablo Goldbarg, filmmaker / Writer, Remezcla, Cinema Tropical; Javier Guerrero, director, 100% Venezuela (NYU Venezuelan Film Festival); Carlos A. Gutiérrez, co-founding director, Cinema Tropical; Jytte Jensen, curator, MoMA Department of Film; Peter Lucas, professor, Department of Photography and Imaging and Open Arts at the Tisch School of Arts at New York University; Yehudit Mam, filmmaker / blogger, The Grande Enchilada; Mary Jane Marcasiano, Cinema Tropical; Alberto Medina, Author / Associate professor, Columbia University; Micki Mihich, film critic and columnist, On & Off, Sci-Fi News, Starlog, Wizard; Lucila Moctezuma, coordinator, Tribeca Latin America Media Arts Fund (Tribeca Film Institute); Nuria Net, editor-in-chief, Co-Founder,; Louis Perego Moreno, executive producer, Skyline Features; Carmen Oquendo, researcher and film curator, NYU; Jack Rico, editor-in-chief,; Jerónimo Rodríguez, film critic/host, Toma 1 (NY1 Noticias); Paul Julian Smith, film scholar, author of The Cinema of Pedro Almodóvar and Amores Perros; Roselly Torres, Distribution & Marketing Director, Third World Newsreel; Diana Vargas, programmer, Havana Film Festival (NY) and Corto Circuito; Mónika Wagenberg, co-founding director, Cinema Tropical; Naief Yehya, film critic, La Jornada, Milenio / author of The Transformed Body and War and Propaganda.

To view the complete list of films as well as the individual selections please visit:

For more information please contact Andrew Vargas Stehney at (212) 254-5474 or

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