Movies can communicate what we struggle to say and share stories we have long forgotten. Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect opportunity to snuggle on the couch and watch a movie as a family to teach your kids the importance of cultural heritage.
Watching movies with diverse casts, diverse stories, and a wide range of cultural identities will help you raise globally aware and empathetic children and engage kids who are educated about their heritage and curious about where they come from.
Ask your kids questions about the film, the characters, struggles, and lives. Help them understand what they are watching and how it relates to you, your family, your history, and your community. And it’s essential to continue these open conversations on a regular basis, not just once and not just during Hispanic Heritage Month.
Here are some fantastic films that can help teach your children the importance of cultural heritage and can help start essential conversations about what it means to be a Latina in today’s world.
This biographical drama is considered by many to be a Latino cultural heritage classic. The incredible acting by Jennifer Lopez as the Texas-born Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla is something to be experienced time and time again. The film tracks Selena’s rise to fame, from her early upbringing to her cult status, her chart-topping albums on Latin music charts, her crossover into the American mainstream music industry, and her untimely death. But more importantly, it explores her deep cultural pride and how her music and story have inspired people for generations.
This vibrant and emotional animated film follows the story of Miguel, who dreams of being a musician, but his family forbids it. He ends up on a life-changing journey into the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather and explore his family’s history. The movie — a love letter to Mexico — touches on the importance of family, culture, and remembrance.
This is America Ferrera’s breakout role, where she stars as Ana Garcia, a Latina teen trying to figure out who she is and how that measures up to who her overbearing mother wants her to be. It’s a film about coming of age and figuring out who you are while also juggling family responsibilities, with doses of body positivity, rejecting societal norms, and staying true to oneself mixed in.
Another cult classic animated film, Disney’s Encanto, has been playing non-stop on your kids’ screens for a reason. The music is beyond catchy (hello, it’s from the brilliant mind of Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda), and the lyrics also ring true for anyone who has ever experienced family judgment and tried to live up to a relative’s expectations. In this case, it is the story of Mirabel Madrigal. She feels like an outsider from her Colombian family, especially her Abuela, because she is the only one with no magical powers living in their casita. An absolute must-see for parents and kids of all ages.
This drama is an emotional film about a Colombian teenager who gets pregnant. To support her large family, she becomes a drug mule, forcing her into a dangerous world of drug trafficking. The movie puts you in Maria’s shoes and offers a terrifying and eye-opening look into her world without judgment but rather with grace. It’s heavy, that’s for sure, but also important, especially for older teens.