Spanish Language Cinema

Pan's Labyrinth
Pan's Labyrinth

 This film list celebrates all things Spanish: language, culture, notable filmmakers and much more.

Suitable for both primary and secondary audiences with a wealth of themes including citizenship and LGBTQ+ identity, it also features directors including Guillermo Del Toro, Pedro Almodóvar, Cary Fukunaga, J.A. Bayona and Pablo Larraín, exploring the stories of Spain and the Spanish-speaking countries of South America on screen.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration102 mins

Dora and the Lost City of Gold(2019)

An adventurous teenage girl sets off on a jungle adventure with her new high school classmates in order to rescue her explorer parents.

Though this film is almost entirely in English, there are little snippets of Spanish language use – words and phrases, here and there – which make it a nice introduction to language-learning for primary audiences. It also contains Latin American characters, including Dora herself, and explores Hispanic culture throughout the story.

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My Brother Luca

CertUnclassified

Age group7–14

Duration10 mins

My Brother Luca(2019)

A girl narrates the everyday life of her younger brother, comparing his autism to superpowers.

This Mexican short film has English narration but briefly features Spanish words on screen in key scenes, also acting as an accessible way to broach the topic of modern foreign languages in younger audiences. As well as this, it tells an important story about autism and how its title character experiences various situations differently to most people.

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Zipi y Zape y el club de la canica (Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang)

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration92 mins

Zipi y Zape y el club de la canica (Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang)(2013)

Spanish adventure in which unruly twins Zip and Zap are sent to a strict summer school, where they form a gang of rebels to defy the cruel director.

Both made in Spain and Spanish language, this is a film that comes from a franchise which follows teenage twins Zip and Zap. In this adventure, they are sent to a strict summer school and learn of a mysterious treasure that apparently resides within the grounds, becoming involved in a race against the school’s director to find it before he does.

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Crocodile

CertUnclassified

Age group11–16

Duration5 mins

Crocodile(2018)

Alicia sits down to watch her favourite video game streamer – but what is it about him that is so important to her?

This short film revolves around two characters who are brought together by the internet, specifically a streaming site. Victor is a young gamer who interacts with his audience as he streams his video game playing, and Alicia is a middle-aged woman who decides to watch. But what is the relationship between these two?

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Wakolda (The German Doctor)

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration90 mins

Wakolda (The German Doctor)(2013)

A gripping drama set in Patagonia about a little girl who befriends a visiting German doctor with a dark secret.

Set in Spanish-speaking Argentina in 1960, a family on the way to their new home meet a doctor who takes a curious interest in the daughter’s growth condition. Unbeknownst to them, he is Nazi official Josef Mengele – also known as the Angel of Death – a World War II physician now in exile after performing dreadful experiments on concentration camp prisoners.

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The Golden Dream

Cert12

Age group14+

Duration108 mins

The Golden Dream(2013)

Unconventional road movie about a group of undocumented teen Guatemalan migrants and their perilous journey to a new life in the US.

This three-country co-production comes from Mexico, Spain and Guatemala, telling the story of undocumented teenage migrants who travel full of hope from Guatemala towards the US. Their journey is tough and fraught with danger, however, demonstrating the great lengths people will go to in order to pursue a better life.

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No

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration112 mins

No(2012)

The story of how the people of Chile attempted to oust dictator General Pinochet from power in the late 1980s.

Directed by filmmaker Pablo Larraín who, like some others on this list, started off with Spanish language titles before going on to make more mainstream films (such as ‘Jackie’). ‘No’ is the story of Chile’s 1988 referendum and the campaign to defeat General Augusto Pinochet through a grassroots movement, led by a daring advertising executive played by Gael García Bernal.

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Pan's Labyrinth

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration118 mins

Pan's Labyrinth(2006)

Outstanding fantasy grounded in a Spanish Civil War setting, about a girl who discovers a magical maze at her ruthless stepfather's remote army base.

‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, from Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro, is arguably the most well-known and acclaimed Spanish film of them all. Winning three Oscars® upon release in the categories of Cinematography, Art Direction and Makeup, it tells the story of a young girl and her family caught up in the Spanish Civil War through a blend of brutal reality and thrilling fantasy.

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Sin Nombre

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration101 mins

Sin Nombre(2009)

Powerful drama about a young man and woman from Honduras making the dangerous journey north to try to cross from the Mexican border to the US.

Similar to the ‘The Golden Dream’, this film too tells a story about immigrants attempting to cross the Mexico-US border, and as with ‘No’ it comes from a director who has since made his way to Hollywood. Cary Fukunaga – who would go on to make Bond film ‘No Time to Die’ – helms this hard-hitting drama with a title which translates as “Nameless”.

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Diarios De Motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries)

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration121 mins

Diarios De Motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries)(2004)

Road movie based on the diaries of a young Che Guevara traveling through Argentina with his friend Alberto Granado.

Set in 1952 Argentina, this road movie (also starring Gael García Bernal) focuses on the early life of Che Guevara. Two friends travel around South America starting in their home of Buenos Aires, seeking to see things that they’ve hitherto only read about in books. Despite the problems they encounter along the way, the trip will be a life-changing experience for both men.

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Julieta

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration99 mins

Julieta(2016)

A chance encounter with the past brings unresolved grief and guilt to the surface for a woman who has become estranged from her daughter.

One of a number of Pedro Almodóvar titles on the Into Film catalogue, ‘Julieta’ is adapted from three of Alice Munro’s short stories (‘Chance’, ‘Soon’ and ‘Silence’) found in her collection, ‘Runaway’. The film contains Almodóvar’s many trademarks: melodrama, vibrant colours, larger-than-life colours and ripe themes, and is set in Madrid.

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A Fantastic Woman

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration104 mins

A Fantastic Woman(2017)

Chilean drama about a transgender woman who finds herself shut out following the sudden death of her boyfriend.

Produced and set in Chile, this Academy Award®-winning drama is centred around a transgender woman who must cope with many difficulties in her life after the sudden death of her boyfriend. As well as grieving for her partner, she finds herself treated badly by his family and subjected to discrimination by official institutions, but rallies against these injustices nonetheless.

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XXY

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration89 mins

XXY(2007)

Sensitive drama about Alex, a 15-year-old intersex person, who cannot be physically characterised as male or female but has been living as a girl.

From Lucía Puenzo – who also directed ‘Wakolda’ – comes this sensitive drama about a teenager who has moved with her family from Argentina to a village near the sea in Uruguay. This film is notable for its intersex protagonist – an aspect of gender identity which remains severely underrepresented on screen – and her struggles against societal norms.

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The Orphanage

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration105 mins

The Orphanage(2007)

Spooky film about an abandoned orphanage with past secrets taken over by a couple, whose son has some strange experiences before vanishing.

This beguiling horror-thriller put director J.A. Bayona on the map. Before going on to make the likes of ‘A Monster Calls’ and ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ he made this feature debut with this acclaimed supernatural mystery. Influenced by Del Toro’s filmography, who served as executive producer, the plot revolves around the disappearance of a young child in Spain.

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