The Best Films to Watch for Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage month is celebrated nationally from September 15 to October 15. One fun way for anyone to acknowledge and celebrate the culture of Spanish speaking countries is to honor some of the best filmmakers, writers, and actors who have put together these magnificent, compelling stories by watching their films! Although I myself am not Hispanic, these 5 films undoubtedly have a touching effect on any viewer: they will make you laugh, cry, scream at your TV, learn something new, and become awestruck by the powerful messages. Happy watching!




This earns its place as one of my top favorite films of all time, and for good reason.  A striking biography of the life of Frida Khalo, what makes Frida special is that it is crafted as a piece of art. Anyone who is familiar with any of this Mexican painter‘s work will recognize stills in the movie that imitate some of her more famous works.  It is surprisingly accurate to her real life, and this window into her life has an indescribably quality of making the viewer feel a personal connection with the stubbornly strong heroine.

Like Water for Chocolate

Set in Mexico and Texas in the early 20th century, the story follows the lives of a family in the midst of the Mexican Revolutionary War. Tita, the character the plot most closely follows, is a kind but headstrong woman who challenges tradition. As her family’s youngest daughter, she is raised with the knowledge that her fate is to take care of her mother until the day she dies. Despite her disregard for this, she is extremely passionate about the art of cooking in alignment with her Mexican tradition, and we soon find out there is something utterly special and sacred about the way she cooks. Based off the book by Laura Esquivel, it is a striking historical fiction piece about the complex beauty of tradition, and the eternal reverence of one’s culture. 


An animated film, Coco is a much less dramatic movie than some of the boldly confrontational others on this list. It is extremely fun to watch, and it has vivid, spectacular imagery inspired by Dia de Los Muertos in Mexico. It depicts the importance of family identity, and is very culturally conscious.

Nostalgia for the Light

For those more inclined to watching documentaries, this is the film to view. It has a more realist element than some of the surreal or interpretive themes as animated or thought provoking films.  It was also made more recently, and as such illustrates a more modern window into the continuities and changes of Chile. It has a more historical perspective as well, considering that is focuses on the excavation of bones and the uncovering of events past.

Chico and Rita

Chico and Rita begins in Cuba, and follows the enthralling love story where Rita and Chico travel the world to immerse themselves in the diverse worlds of music they find there.  With a stunning soundtrack by some of the most talented Hispanic jazz musicians, it can be looked at as if a piece of art, much like Frida. The animation is simple, for the purpose of showcasing the music, and the visuals and sounds blend to create an immersive experience.