Latinos at SXSW 2024 Killed It (And Took Home Big Prizes)

Doin It cast, including Stephanie Beatriz, representing for Latinos at SXSW

The SXSW 2024 Film Festival is officially in the rearview and one thing is clear – Latinos at SXSW came to Austin with their A game. Our gente is behind some of the best storytelling on screen, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Two of my favorites took home some top-shelf hardware while all I brought home was a hangover.

And while there was an abundance of both riches in projects and margarita specials on Congress Street, there was not enough time to catch them all. Having said that, here is this Latina’s look at the strongest seven films at SXSW.

I Don’t Like Bob Trevino Likes It, I Love It

Latinos at SXSW - Bob Trevino Likes It

John Leguizamo (Encanto) and Barbie Ferreira (Euphoria) star in Bob Trevino Likes It. Ferriera is Lily Trevino, a 20-something healthcare worker who has buried the trauma of her younger years underneath 2,000 feet of optimism. With a mother who hit the bricks long ago, Lily is left with a father, Robert Trevino (French Stewart – 3rd Rock from the Sun), who gives her about as much attention as a receipt from the grocery store. Disowned and discarded Lily is desperate to get back in her dad’s good graces and looks for him on Facebook.

The Bob Trevino she friends online isn’t her biological dad. Instead he’s a different Bob Trevino played by Leguizamo. Though this Bob is happily married, he is heartbroken too, but for very different reasons. Together, the two embark on a sweet and touching friendship that turns out to be the unconditional love they both so desperately need.

The story is based on a real-life experience from writer/director Tracie Laymon and is one of the more poignant films these eyeballs have seen in some time. Bob Trevino Likes It is beautiful but will hit you in the pansa with a fistful of heartache. Ferriera is truly remarkable in her leading performance. While Leguizamo lays a strong foundation for the film and sets the tone for a quiet unconditional love in friendship and respect.

As the saying goes, ‘great minds think alike,’ SXSW also loved Bob Trevino Likes It. The film was awarded both a Jury and Audience Award, meaning that Latinos at SXSW took home the top festival prizes.

My Dead Friend Zoe

My Dead Friend Zoe

Natalie Morales is Zoe. Spoiler alert, Zoe is dead. Well kinda. Though she is no longer of this earth, she remains ever present in her best friend Merit’s (Sonequa Martin-Green) day-to-day life. The two served in the Army together and although Merit has returned home her PSTD has her very much engaged in a relationship with her dead friend Zoe.

Through the film we learn how Zoe died and how her death made it possible for Merit to live again. My Dead Friend Zoe is hands down one of my favorites of the year. It brings humor and heart to the heavy subject of war. So often war films fall into one of two categories: death and destruction, or destitution and depression. My Dead Friend Zoe isn’t either of these types. It falls in the gray area, an area where soldiers exist yet are often underrepresented.

Speaking of underrepresented, major shoutout to writer-director Kyle Hausmann-Stokes. Stokes wrote the film based on his own war experience when two of his platoon mates died. But rather than cast two men in the leading roles, Stokes chose to cast two women of color.

My Dead Friend Zoe won the Audience Award in the Narrative Spotlight category. The film is produced by Legion M and also stars Gloria Ruben, Ed Harris, and Morgan Freeman.

3 Body Problem

Eiza González as Auggie Salazar in episode 103 of 3 Body Problem. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024

Netflix gives us Eiza González’s (Ambulance) next project and so brings Latinos at SXSW into a (very) uncertain future. In the television episodic, González is Auggie Salazar, a scientist who, along with her other scientist BFFs must come out on the winning side of the greatest threat in human history. Or in the world of a Latina…Tuesday afternoon.

Brought to us by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (Game of Thrones) and Alexander Woo (True Blood) the series spans across generations and across multiple space and time universes. Part sci-fi and part fantasy, 3 Body Problem is all engrossing and we promise isn’t like anything you’ve likely seen.

Doin’ It

Lilly Singh is Maya, a 30-year-old Indian-American virgin who is tasked with teaching high school sex education in Doing’ It. This very R-rated sex comedy directed by Sara Zandieh takes on identity, shame, and the very real need for actual sex education for all. That includes Stephanie Beatriz, who plays the inquisitive lunch lady in Maya’s school. Beatriz offers up comradery and chisme in her role as Maya’s BFF complete with a hair net that itself is worthy of its own IMDB credit.

Beatriz is just one of a cast full of fierce females that includes Ana Gasteyer (Saturday Night Live), Sabrina Jalees (Rubble and Crew), and Mary Holland (Big Door Prize). Doin’ It is effing hilarious and should be considered mandatory viewing for women of all ages.


Latinos at SXSW - Rachel Zegler in Y2K

The nostalgia of Y2K had me totally buggin. Rachel Zegler (West Side Story) is Laura, the popular high-schooler in this dial-up disaster set on December 31, 1999. She along with Jaeden Martell (Eli), Julian Dennison (Danny), Lachlan Watson (Ash) and Fred Durst (himself) must fight for their lives as they navigate a post-millennium world controlled by robots.

Fortunately for Eli, Laura isn’t just his dreamgirl, she happens to be the brains of the adolescent operation and may just be the key to unlocking the off switch on the killer machines. The film is campy in its gruesomeness while still being da bomb in the laughs department and making sure Latinos at SXSW were part of all the biggest premieres. Y2K is set to be released by A24 later this year.

The Uninvited

From the angst of high school to the overworked and overlooked middle-aged woman we go. Elizabeth Reaser (The Haunting of Hill House) is Rose, an aging actress and married mother of one. When her old novio, Lucien (Pedro Pascal), shows up during a party at her Hollywood Hills home, Rose is faced with a choice – live out the days of her youth with the hottest hunk of a man to grace the stage or settle into the seemingly boring role of mom and wife.

While I would make my choice in favor of Pascal quicker than one can say, ‘ay papi,’ I have to say that writer/director Nadia Conners makes a case for more than just that. The Uninvited is more about the choices that women have to make all along the stages of their lives. Whether is the hot young actress who is on the verge of being the ‘It’ girl, the elderly woman who is longing for the days of her youth, or the resignation of women into motherhood, The Uninvited is a lot like Pascal himself: layered, complex, and beautiful.

Civil War

Pascal’s Narcos costar Wager Moura also hit Austin with one of the biggest projects of the festival. Representing Latinos at SXSW, Moura plays Joel, one-third of a group of military-embedded journalists in Civil War. He alongside Lee (Kristen Dunst – The Power of the Dog) and Jessie (Cailee Spaeny- Priscilla) are on the way to Washington to get the final interview from the dictator of a President (Nick Offerman) before they are beaten by opposing military factions. It seems the Americans of Civil War find themselves being governed by a leader who refuses to leave office and is firmly planting himself at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Moura, who is a journalist himself, brings accountability and authority to the role, which helps illustrate how close our ‘today’ is to their fictional ‘tomorrow.’ Though the film was written four years ago, it will be hard to not make comparisons to the headlines of today. Civil War is not to be missed when it hits theaters April 12.

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