Sofia De Vera combines a heartfelt passion for cinema with over 15 years of critiquing for esteemed film publications, wielding academic credentials from the University of Southern California and New York University, to serve as your personal guide through the enchanting worlds of film and television.
Central America has a lot to offer for both national and international filmmakers. The countries range from those with modern cityscapes, to those with a strong sense of history and ancient architecture. It is also known for its natural attractions and diverse culture. So it will come as no surprise that there are so many wonderful movies set in Central America!
Central America is a diverse and vibrant region located between North and South America. It is home to a wide variety of cultures, landscapes, and languages, making it a truly unique destination for travelers. From the lush rainforests of Panama to the ancient Maya ruins of Guatemala, Central America offers something for everyone.
One of the things that make Central American culture so special is its rich history and cultural influences. The region has a long and varied history, with influences from indigenous, European, and African cultures. This mix of influences can be seen in the art, music, and cuisine of the region, which are all rich and varied.
When it comes to film, Central America has several talented directors who have managed to capture the beauty and complexity of the region in their work. In Costa Rica, there is Paz Fábrega, whose films explore the intersection of nature and human experience.
In El Salvador, there is Claudia Pinto Emperador, whose films delve into the country’s tumultuous history and the resilience of its people. In Guatemala, there is Jayro Bustamante, whose films tackle themes of social justice and identity. In Honduras, there is Jorge Caballero, whose films explore the country’s rich cultural heritage.
In Nicaragua, there is Gustavo Nieto Roa, whose films delve into the country’s history and its struggle for social justice. In Panama, there is Abner Benaim, whose films explore the country’s rich cultural diversity and tumultuous history. And in Belize, there is Xandra Ivette Falcon, whose films explore the country’s natural beauty and vibrant culture.
These films are a great way to get to know Central America and its cultures from the comfort of your own home. Whether you are interested in the region’s history, its natural beauty, or its vibrant culture, these films offer a unique and immersive experience that will transport you to the heart of Central America.
These films often rely on the setting as much as the main characters, giving viewers an authentic and unique perspective of the location. This concept of cinematic travel can be applied to other destinations as well. For example, by watching movies that were shot in South Korea, the Philippines, Barcelona, Latin America, or even the USA, you can gain insight into the culture, history, and landscapes of these places, and get ideas for your future travel plans.
Wondering where to watch? It depends on where you live in the world and which streaming services you have. We link to the streaming service we watch on in each case - be it Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, or elsewhere.
You can get one month free of Amazon Prime (or a 6-month trial for students) of Amazon Prime and also get immediate access to FREE Two Day shipping, Amazon Video, and Music. While you won't be charged for your free trial, you'll be upgraded to a paid membership plan automatically at the end of the trial period - though if you have already binged all these, you could just cancel before the trial ends.
Apple TV+ also has a one-week trial, and Hulu has a one-month trial (which can be bundled with Disney!). Another option might be using a VPN to access Netflix titles locked to other regions. Netflix is now available in more than 190 countries worldwide and each country has a different library and availability. US Netflix is (understandably) one of the best.
While we wish everything could just be in one place - for now, it seems these are the best streaming platforms to watch on.
Sandino is a biographical drama film directed by Miguel Littin and set in Nicaragua in the 1920s and 1930s. The film tells the true story of Augusto César Sandino, a revolutionary leader who fought against the US occupation of Nicaragua and became a symbol of resistance for the people of Central America.
As Sandino leads a guerrilla campaign against the US forces, he faces many challenges, including betrayal, assassination plots, and intense political pressure. Despite these obstacles, he remains determined to defend his country and its people from foreign domination.
The film is set in Nicaragua, which is known for its beautiful beaches, rich cultural traditions, and stunning natural beauty. The film features some important local landmarks, including the capital city of Managua and the stunning lake of Nicaragua.
Sandino has a great cast of actors that you probably haven’t seen before. That’s unless you are acquainted with the best Nicaraguan actors and actresses. The performances by including Tomás Milian, Ana Álvarez, and Mario Ivan Martínez stand out as some of the best. The film was well-received by critics and won numerous awards, including the Silver Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Sandino is a powerful and moving film that offers a unique and compelling look at the life and legacy of Augusto César Sandino, a man who dedicated his life to the liberation of his people. If you’re a fan of biographical dramas or historical films, you are sure to love this one.
Carla’s Song is a powerful and poignant love story set against the backdrop of the Nicaragua-Costa Rica conflict in the 1980s. The film, directed by Ken Loach, stars Robert Carlyle as George, a Scottish bus driver living in Glasgow, and Oyanka Cabezas as Carla, a Nicaraguan refugee.
The film follows George and Carla as they journey to Nicaragua in search of Carla’s missing boyfriend, a Sandinista soldier who has been captured by the Contras. Along the way, the two characters form a deep bond and fall in love, despite the dangers and difficulties they face.
Carla’s Song is a deeply moving and thought-provoking film that explores the complex and often violent political landscape of Central America during the 1980s. The film was nominated for several awards, including the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, and Robert Carlyle was praised for his powerful and nuanced performance as George.
The film is set in both Glasgow and Nicaragua, with stunning cinematography that captures the beauty and diversity of both locations. Nicaragua is depicted as a country torn apart by conflict, with scenes shot at important landmarks such as the Mercado Oriental, a bustling market in the capital city of Managua.
Carla’s Song is a must-see film for fans of political drama, romance, and compelling performances. Its thought-provoking storyline and beautiful cinematography make it a memorable and impactful viewing experience.
La Yuma is a powerful and inspiring coming-of-age film set in Nicaragua. The film, directed by Florence Jaugey, stars Danae Reynaud as Yuma, a young woman living in the slums of Managua who dreams of becoming a boxer.
The film follows Yuma as she struggles to overcome the poverty and violence that surrounds her, and fights for her dreams against all odds. Along the way, she must confront the expectations and prejudices of those around her, and learn to embrace her own strength and independence.
La Yuma is a moving and uplifting film that celebrates the resilience and determination of young people. Danae Reynaud gives a captivating and nuanced performance as Yuma, and the film has received praise for its authentic and realistic portrayal of life in Nicaragua.
The film is set in the slums of Managua and does a great job of capturing the beauty of the place where one normally wouldn’t see it. Through the eyes of Jaugey, the vibrant and colorful streets of the city stand out. Important local landmarks such as the Mercado Oriental and the Estadio Nacional are shown in the film, adding to its authenticity and immersion.
La Yuma is a great film for anyone interested in the places you don’t usually see in the film. Its uplifting message and beautiful cinematography make it a heartwarming and memorable viewing experience.
The Mosquito Coast is a 1986 film directed by Peter Weir and starring Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, and River Phoenix. The film tells the story of Allie Fox, a brilliant inventor and radical thinker who becomes disillusioned with American consumerism and decides to move his family to the jungle of Central America.
As they journey deep into the jungle, they encounter its inherent dangers, including dangerous animals, treacherous rivers, and hostile indigenous tribes. Despite these challenges, Allie remains determined to build a new life in the jungle, and he becomes increasingly obsessed with the idea of creating a utopian society in the wilderness.
The film is set in a remote part of Central America, and it features a number of beautiful and exotic locations, including the Mosquito Coast, a stretch of the jungle along the Caribbean Sea. The film also features many important local landmarks, including the Mayan ruins of Copan and the beautiful beaches of Belize.
Harrison Ford gives a powerful performance as Allie Fox, and he is supported by a strong cast including Helen Mirren and River Phoenix. The Mosquito Coast was well-received by critics and was nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Sound and Best Original Score.
The Mosquito Coast is a thrilling and thought-provoking film that explores the limits of human ingenuity and the dangers of radical idealism. The film is perfect for any fan of Harrison Ford who hasn’t yet seen his least-known films.
Innocent Voices is a drama film directed by Luis Mandoki and set during the Salvadoran Civil War in the 1980s. The film follows the story of Chava, a young boy living in a small village in El Salvador who is forced to confront the horrors of war at a very young age.
As the conflict between the government and rebels escalates, Chava is forced to flee his village and seek refuge in the city, where he witnesses firsthand the atrocities of the war. Despite facing numerous challenges and dangers, Chava remains determined to survive and protect his loved ones.
The film is set in El Salvador, a country in Central America that was devastated by a brutal civil war in the 1980s. The film features several important local landmarks, including the capital city of San Salvador and the beautiful beaches of La Libertad.
Innocent Voices features a strong cast of actors, including Carlos Padilla, Leonor Varela, and Gustavo Muñoz. The film had a great reception from critics, going on to win several awards, including the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and the Ariel Award for Best Iberoamerican Film.
Innocent Voices is a powerful and emotional film that offers a poignant look at the devastating impact of war on innocent lives. If you’re a fan of drama or socially conscious films, you won’t want to miss this one.
Ixcanul is a 2015 drama film directed by Jayro Bustamante and set in the highlands of Guatemala. The film follows the story of Maria, a young indigenous woman living in a remote village who is engaged to be married to a wealthy coffee grower.
As she prepares for her future, Maria begins to question the traditions and expectations of her community, and she becomes increasingly drawn to the freedom and independence offered by the outside world. When a sudden crisis threatens her future, Maria must make a series of difficult choices that will determine the course of her life.
The film is set in Guatemala, a country known for its rich cultural traditions and stunning natural beauty. The film features some important local landmarks, including the beautiful lakes of Atitlan and the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal.
Ixcanul features a strong cast of actors, including María Mercedes Coroy, Maria Telón, and Manuel Antún. The film was loved by critics and won numerous awards, including the Best First Film Award at the Berlin International Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Miami International Film Festival.
Ixcanul is a poignant and powerful film that offers a unique and compelling look at the traditions and challenges faced by indigenous communities in Guatemala. You should totally see this film if you’re interested in stories that don’t make it to the big screen.
The Tailor of Panama is a compelling spy thriller set in the vibrant and colorful city of Panama. The film tells the story of Andy Osnard (Pierce Brosnan), a British spy who is sent to Panama to investigate the activities of a wealthy businessman named Harry Pendel (Geoffrey Rush).
Harry owns a tailoring business in Panama and is known for his connections to the local elite. However, Andy soon discovers that Harry is not who he appears to be, and the two men become involved in a dangerous game of espionage and deception.
The film, which was directed by John Boorman, features strong performances from Brosnan and Rush, as well as from Jamie Lee Curtis as Harry’s wife Louisa, and Leonor Varela as Harry’s lover, Marta. The film’s plot is filled with twists and turns, and the setting in Panama adds an extra layer of intrigue and authenticity to the story.
In terms of its setting, the film does a great job of showcasing the beauty and culture of Panama. The film features several important local landmarks, including the Panama Canal and the Casco Viejo neighborhood, which is the oldest part of the city. These locations add to the film’s sense of place and help to transport viewers to this exotic and exciting location.
The Tailor of Panama is a great and entertaining film that is sure to keep audiences on the edge of their seats. If you’re a fan of spy thrillers or just want to experience the excitement of Panama, this film is definitely worth a watch.
Hands of Stone is a biographical sports drama film directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz and set in Panama in the 1970s and 1980s. The film follows the story of Roberto Durán, a world-renowned boxer from Panama who becomes the undisputed lightweight champion of the world. The film features the Panama Canal and the bustling city of Panama.
As Durán rises to fame and fortune, he becomes embroiled in a bitter rivalry with Sugar Ray Leonard, a talented young American boxer. The two men face off in a series of epic battles that define their careers and shape the history of boxing.
Hands of Stone is a thrilling and entertaining film that will make you acquainted with the life of Roberto Durán, who truly was one of the greatest boxers of all time.
The Laundromat is a dark comedy film directed by Steven Soderbergh and based on the Panama Papers scandal. The film follows the story of Ellen Martin, a retired teacher who becomes embroiled in a complex web of deceit and corruption after the sudden death of her husband. The film is set in a number of locations around the world, including the United States, Europe, and Central America.
As she investigates the circumstances of his death, Ellen uncovers a vast network of offshore shell companies and secret bank accounts used to hide illicit wealth and evade taxes. Along the way, she encounters many colorful characters, including a pair of scheming lawyers and a wealthy financier with ties to the Panama Papers scandal.
The Laundromat has many great actors, of which Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, and Antonio Banderas stand out. The film was well-received by critics and was nominated for many awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.
This clever and entertaining film offers a unique take on the Panama Papers scandal and the shadowy world of offshore finance. Whether it is because of Meryl Streep’s great performance or the exquisite dark humor, you are sure to love this film.
American Made is an action-comedy film directed by Doug Liman and starring Tom Cruise. The film has many great actors from all over the world. The film tells the true story of Barry Seal, a commercial pilot who becomes a drug smuggler for the Medellín Cartel in the 1980s.
As Barry becomes increasingly involved in the dangerous and illicit world of drug trafficking, he finds himself caught in the crosshairs of the DEA, the CIA, and the Colombian cartels. Despite the risks, he remains determined to outmaneuver his enemies and come out on top.
The film is set in a number of locations around the world, including the United States, Central America, and South America. The film shows the beautiful beaches of Nicaragua.
American Made is a fast-paced and entertaining film that offers a unique take on the true story of Barry Seal, a man who lived life on the edge and played both sides against the middle. If you’re a fan of action comedies or Tom Cruise’s work, you won’t want to miss this one.
The Weeping Woman is a horror film directed by Jayro Bustamante and set in Guatemala during the Civil War in the 1980s. The film follows the story of Carmen, an indigenous woman who is accused of being a witch and sentenced to death by the government.
As she awaits her execution, Carmen tells the story of her life to a young boy, revealing the secrets of her past and the tragic events that led to her downfall. As the boy listens to her story, he begins to suspect that Carmen may be innocent and that there may be a darker force at work.
The film is set in Guatemala, a country known for its rich cultural traditions and stunning natural beauty. The film features showcases the city of Guatemala and the beautiful lakes of Atitlan.
The Weeping Woman is a terrifying and atmospheric horror film that combines elements of folklore and history to create a unique and disturbing tale. This film is perfect for any fan of horror films.
The Golden Dream is a 2013 drama film directed by Diego Quemada-Díez and set in Guatemala. The film follows the story of three young friends – Juan, Samuel, and Sara – who undertake a dangerous journey to the United States in search of a better life.
The film was well-received by critics and won numerous awards, including the Caméra d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival.
As they travel north, they encounter many challenges and dangers, including treacherous mountain passes, hostile border patrols, and ruthless smugglers. Despite these obstacles, the three friends remain determined to reach the United States and pursue their dreams
The Golden Dream is a poignant and powerful film that offers a unique and compelling look at the struggles and aspirations of young people in Guatemala.