2023 Sundance Film Festival

What to Watch: 13 Spanish–Language Films Premiering at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival

News

By Stephanie Ornelas 

Sundance Institute has a long history of support for films in Spanish through the Sundance Film Festival, Artists Labs, and other programs within the Institute. Just recently, Dos Estaciones, a Sundance Institute–supported film, won Best Feature at the 2022 Gotham Awards, and so many other films that screened at past Sundance Festivals have become household favorites, like Y tu mamá también (2002 Sundance Film Festival) and El Mariachi (1993 Sundance Film Festival). 

If you’re wondering what the 2023 Sundance Film Festival has in store for spanish–language films, look no further than this list. From sci-fi shorts to stories of inspiration, these 13 powerful films come from a diverse group of genres and will leave you captivated.

Purchase your Festival passes and packages, ahead of the single film ticket sale in January, and start building your schedule now. Under each film title, you’ll be able to see if the film is also available to watch online or exclusively in person.

AliEN0089

Director: Valeria Hofmann

Section: Midnight Short Film

Available to watch in person and online

While a gamer uploads a testimonial video to denounce the harassment she suffers in a video game, a stranger enters her home and hacks her computer, blurring the boundaries between the real and virtual worlds. 

This will be director and screenwriter Valeria Hofmann’s first film premiering at the Festival. 

A wrestler with short hair stands in the center of a ring with his hands in the air. He's wearing a black and gold uniform.

Cassandro

Director: Roger Ross Williams

Section: Premieres 

Available to watch in person

Saúl Armendáriz (Gael García Bernal), a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso, rises to international stardom after he creates the character Cassandro, the “Liberace of Lucha Libre.” In the process, he upends not just the macho wrestling world, but also his own life. 

Director and screenwriter Roger Ross Williams has a long history with Sundance Institute as an Advisor (2016 Catalyst Forum), Mentor (2020 Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellows), and Festival panelist (2013, 2016, 2019). Cassandro will be his fifth film premiering at a Sundance Film Festival. 

The Eternal Memory 

Director: Maite Alberdi

Section: World Cinema Documentary

Available to watch in person and online 

Augusto and Paulina have been together for 25 years. Eight years ago, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Both fear the day he no longer recognizes her. 

Director and producer Maite Alberdi (The Mole Agent) returns to the Festival with her fourth film and was a World Documentary Competition Juror for the Festival in 2019. 

Going Varsity in Mariachi

Director: Alejandra Vasquez and Sam Osborn

Section: U.S. Documentary Competition 

Available to watch in person and online

In the competitive world of high school mariachi, the musicians from the South Texas borderlands reign supreme. Under the guidance of coach Abel Acuña, the teenage captains of Edinburg North High School’s acclaimed team must turn a shoestring budget and diverse crew of inexperienced musicians into state champions. 

Producer James Lawler also produced Don’t Let Me Drown (2009 Sundance Film Festival), which was supported by Sundance Institute. 

A line of young soldiers are staring straight ahead

Heroic

Director: David Zonana

Section: World Cinema Dramatic

Available to watch in person and online

Luis, an 18-year-old boy with Indigenous roots, enters the Heroic Military College in hopes of ensuring a better future. There, he encounters a rigid and institutionally violent system designed to turn him into a perfect soldier. 

In 2017, director and producer David Zonana went through the Morelia | Sundance Institute Story Lab for Mano de obra, which he also wrote.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

I Have No Tears, and I Must Cry

Director: Luis Fernando Puente

Setion: Short Film Program 5

Available to watch in person and online

Maria Luisa is ready to escape immigration limbo. But when her green card interview takes an unexpected turn, she faces the anxiety of losing the life she had planned.

This will be director and screenwriter Luis Fernando Puente’s first project premiering at the Sundance Film Festival.

La Pecera

Director: Glorimar Marrero Sánchez

Section: World Cinema Dramatic

Available to watch in person and online

As her cancer spreads, Noelia’s ultimate decision is to return to her native Vieques, Puerto Rico, and claim her freedom to decide her own fate. She reunites with her friends and family, who are still dealing with the contamination of the U.S. Navy after sixty years of military practices.

The film is written, directed, and produced by Glorimar Marrero Sánchez and is Sánchez’ first project premiering at the Sundance Film Festival.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

MAMACRUZ

Director: Patricia Ortega

Section: World Cinema Dramatic

Available to watch in person and online

With the help of her newly emigrated daughter, a religious grandmother learns how to use the internet. However, an accidental encounter with pornography poses a dilemma for her.

This will be director and screenwriter Patricia Ortega’s first project premiering at the Sundance Film Festival.

Radical

Director: Christopher Zalla

Section: Premieres

Available to watch in person

In a Mexican border town plagued by neglect, corruption, and violence, a frustrated teacher tries a radical new method to break through his students’ apathy and unlock their curiosity, their potential… and maybe even their genius. Based on a true story.

Eugenio Derbez (CODA) returns as another beloved educator in writer-director Christopher Zalla’s film. Zalla is also known for directing Padre Nuesto, the 2007 Sundance Film Festival premiere.

Rotting in the Sun 

Director: Sebastian Silva

Section: Premieres 

Available to watch in person  

After filmmaker Sebastian Silva goes missing in Mexico City, social media celebrity Jordan Firstman begins searching for him, suspecting that the cleaning lady in Sebastian’s building may have something to do with his disappearance. 

Sebastian Silva returns with his seventh Sundance Film Festival premiere. He’s known for writing and directing The Maid, Crystal Fairy, Magic Magic, Nasty Baby, Dolfun, and TYREL

Sorcery 

Director: Christopher Murray 

Section: World Cinema Dramatic 

Available to watch in person and online 

On the remote island of Chiloé in the late 19th century, an Indigenous girl named Rosa lives and works with her father on a farm. When the foreman brutally turns on Rosa’s father, she sets out for justice, seeking help from the king of a powerful organization of sorcerers. 

Producers Juan de Dios Larraín and Pablo Larraín together worked on previous Sundance Film Festival premieres No and Ema Pablo as director and Juan as producer. 

A young woman with dark hair wearing a mask looks up as she works in a sweatshop

Sweatshop Girl

Director: Selma Cervantes

Section: Short Film Program 1

Available to watch in person and online

Inés works as a seamstress in a sweatshop where pregnancy tests are periodically administered. When she becomes pregnant, she is sure that her condition will get her fired. She does everything she can to keep it a secret.

In addition to being a Festival panelist in 1989, 1990, and 1992, producer Jim Stark was the screenwriter and producer for Factotum (2006 Sundance Film Festival) and Cold Fever (1996 Sundance Film Festival).

The Tuba Thieves

Director: Alison O’Daniel

Section: NEXT

Available to watch in person and online

From 2011 to 2013, tubas were stolen from Los Angeles high schools. This is not a story about thieves or missing tubas. Instead, it asks what it means to listen. 

Director, screenwriter, and producer Alison O’Daniel was a Fellow for Sundance Institute’s Art of Practice Fellowship in 2021.

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