Movies and TV to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

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Published October 15, 2020
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The Montclarion
"Coco" tells the story of Miguel on his journey to return to the Land of the Living. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

With Hispanic Heritage Month coming to an end this Thursday, Oct. 15, it is essential to recognize the importance of celebrating Hispanic culture and all people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds, both within and outside of their respective celebratory months.

If you are looking for a way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month before it ends, there are plenty of Hispanic movies and TV shows available across all streaming services. These selections offer much in terms of both entertainment and education.

Coco

Available on Disney+, “Coco” is one of Pixar’s more recent film releases and it has already established itself as one of the animation studio’s finest works.

“Coco” tells the story of Miguel, a young boy living in Mexico, who aspires to be a musician, despite his family’s protests. After sneaking into the mausoleum of his idol, famed musician Ernesto de la Cruz, to borrow his guitar for a performance, Miguel winds up in the Land of the Dead. Miguel learns that he needs a blessing from a deceased family member to return to the Land of the Living before sunrise, so with the help of a deceased man named Hector, the two embark on a journey to find Miguel’s long lost great-great-grandfather.

Vibrant visuals, strengthened by beautiful musical numbers that combine both English and Spanish lyrics, “Coco” is an emotional and heartwarming film with important themes about family and representation of Mexican culture and tradition. This landmark of modern Hispanic-American cinema will surely have the most cold, straight-faced viewers shedding a tear or two.

"One Day at a Time" centers around a Cuban-American family living in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Netflix

“One Day at a Time” centers around a Cuban-American family living in Los Angeles.
Photo courtesy of Netflix

 

One Day at a Time

“One Day at a Time” is a sitcom based on the 1975 sitcom of the same name. This reworked version focuses on a Cuban-American family of three generations living in Los Angeles: Penelope, her two children, Elena and Alex and Penelope’s mother Lydia. The series delves into many serious themes, such as racism, homophobia and mental illness, while also providing the perspective of these serious issues from the point of view of the Hispanic community.

This Netflix original series was canceled after three seasons, but was picked up by Pop TV network for its fourth season. Despite its cancellation, the first three seasons can still be viewed on Netflix. This show is a great watch for Hispanic families and families of all racial and ethnic backgrounds alike, and is a rare example of a sitcom with a laugh track actually being funny.

"Roma" is a semi-autobiographical film from Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón about the live-in housepeeker of an upper middle-class family. Photo courtesy of Netflix

“Roma” is a semi-autobiographical film from Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón about the live-in housepeeker of an upper middle-class family.
Photo courtesy of Netflix

Roma

“Roma” is a 2018 black and white film available to stream on Netflix that follows the story of Cleo, the live-in housekeeper of an upper middle-class family living in Mexico City. The film is set in the early 1970s, as Cleo watches her employer family deal with personal struggles while she simultaneously deals with her own issues. The film was shot on location in Mexico City, and even includes a scene depicting the Corpus Christi Massacre of 1971.

“Roma” was released to critical acclaim and earned 10 Academy Award nominations, winning three, including best director for Alfonso Cuarón. The film also deserves credit for casting Yalitza Aparicio in the lead role, a first-time actress of indigenous Mexican descent.

"Selena" chronicles the life of artist Selena Quintanilla, with Jennifer Lopez in the titular role. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

“Selena” chronicles the life of artist Selena Quintanilla, with Jennifer Lopez in the titular role.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Selena

Available on DirecTV and Sling TV, “Selena” is a biopic of the life and career of Latin artist Selena Quintanilla. The singer, who went by just her first name, achieved breakout success in the late 1980s into the early 1990s. The film stars Jennifer Lopez as the titular role in her breakout film.

The film does a fantastic job at depicting the success and impact that Selena had in her short-lived career, before she was shot and killed in 1995, shortly before her 24th birthday. Lopez earned plaudits from critics and audiences alike for her portrayal of the Grammy Award-winning artist, who is credited with bringing Tejano music into the mainstream. Now, 25 years after her death, Selena’s music is still widely remembered and celebrated, and this film is an important honor to her legacy and to teaching future generations of her impact on the Hispanic community.

Edward James Olmos stars as calculus teacher Jaime Escalante in "Stand and Deliver." Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Edward James Olmos stars as calculus teacher Jaime Escalante in “Stand and Deliver.”
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Stand and Deliver

Based on a true story, “Stand and Deliver” takes place in the early 1980s at James A. Garfield High School in Los Angeles. The film centers around Jaime Escalante, a Bolivian-American high school calculus teacher, who instructs Latinx students from working-class families. Escalante makes it his personal goal to get his students to care about their academic studies and their futures, and prepares them to take the Advanced Placement calculus exam in order to obtain college credits.

Starring Edward James Olmos in the lead role, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for best actor, “Stand and Deliver” tells an inspiring story of a group of students with odds stacked against them. The film portrays the message that with the right motivation, and under proper guidance, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. In the words of Mr. Escalante himself, all we need is “ganas.”

If you are having trouble picking something to watch to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, these are good places to start. Whether you are looking for a family-friendly comedy or an education experience about Hispanic culture and icons, Hispanic media has you covered.

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