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The Independent Film Community Picks the Best Films of 2016

We asked our friends and colleagues in the indie world to share their favorites.

Clockwise from left: “Sieranevada,” “Aquarius,” “Moonlight,” “Maurice”

Carlos A. Guiérrez, Co-Founding Director, Cinema Tropical

Some of my ten favorite Latin American films of the year, (some of those premiered in festivals in 2015, but were released this year in the U.S.).

In alphabetical order:

1. “The Apostate / El apóstata” (Federico Veiroj, Uruguay/Spain)*
An engrossing deadpan existentialist comedy reminiscent of Buñuel and Rohmer about a man who decides to abandon Catholicism.

2. “Aquarius” (Kleber Mendonça Filho, Brazil)
With only two feature films, Brazilian director Kleber Mendonça Filho has become one of the leading filmmakers of his generation. “Aquarius” proves also to be an excellent vehicle for the amazing Sonia Braga in her first Brazilian film in 20 years.

3. “Bleak Street / La calle de la amargura” (Arturo Ripstein, Mexico)*
Mexican veteran director Arturo Ripstein is back in shape with this odd tale—based on the real case—of two twin dwarf lucha libre wrestlers who were accidentally killed by two prostitutes in a mugging attempt.



4. “El Movimiento” (Benjamín Naishtat, Argentina)
A low budget but nonetheless epic film that is a potent and timely meditation on power and violence.

5. “Everything Else / Todo lo demás” (Natalia Almada, Mexico)
Natalia Almada’s debut fiction film is a nuanced and poignant portrait of solitude featuring the wonderful the Academy Award nominated Adriana Barraza in her (surprisingly) first leading role.

6. “The Human Surge / El auge humano” (Eduardo Williams, Argentina)
Williams’ auspicious debut feature weaves three different stories about adolescents, technology and the internet, in Buenos Aires, Mozambique, and the Philippines in a masterfully way.

7. “Kékszákállu” (Gastón Solnicki, Argentina)*
Gastón Solnicki, in his fiction debut, crafts a very delicate and exciting film about the emancipation of young women in the bourgeois milieu of Buenos Aires and Punta del Este.

8. “Tempestad” (Tatiana Hueso, Mexico)
With “The Tiniest Place” and her second documentary feature “Tempestad,” Mexican director Tatiana Huezo has created an influential body of work. “Tempestad” offers a bold yet lyrical take on the humanitarian crisis in Mexico of the past decade through the stories of two resilient women.

9. “This Is the Way I Like It 2 / Como me da la gana” (Ignacio Agüero, Chile)
Ignacio Agüero, one of Latin America’s leading documentarians, offers a remake of his 1985 film in which he visits fellow filmmakers at their sets and interrogates them about their film practices.

10. “Santa Teresa and Other Stories / Santa Teresa y otras historias” (Nelson Carlo de los Santos, Dominican Republic/Mexico)
Dominican filmmaker Nelson Carlo de los Santos, makes a bold riff of Roberto Bolaño’s posthumously published novel “2666,” mixing fiction, nonfiction, and essay for a visual mashup in his promising debut fiction film.

My resolutions: 2017 will be a challenging year, we need to elevate our spirits, and get ready to make the changes we want by starting in our communities. We can only aspire to make substantial positive changes until we implement those within the film world. It’s time to look at the old film manifiestos such as ‘Towards a Third Cinema’ by Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, “The Aesthetics of Hunger” by Glauber Rocha, and “For an Imperfect Cinema” by Julio García Espinosa to look for inspiration and insight.

(*) Full disclosure: Cinema Tropical worked in the publicity campaign for these films

Eugene Hernandez, Deputy Director, Film Society of Lincoln Center & Co-Publisher, Film Comment

1. “Moonlight” (Barry Jenkins)
2. “Cameraperson” (Kirsten Johnson)
3. “I Am Not Your Negro” (Raoul Peck)
4. “13th” (Ava DuVernay)
5. “Julieta” (Pedro Almodóvar)
6. “American Honey” (Andrea Arnold)
7. “Little Men” (Ira Sachs)
8. “Indignation” (James Schamus)
9. “Childhood of a Leader” (Brady Corbet)
10. (tie) “Toni Erdmann” (Maren Ade), “Southside With You” (Richard Tanne), “O.J.: Made in America” (Ezra Edelman)


Honorable mentions: “I, Daniel Blake” (Ken Loach), “Fire at Sea” (Gianfranco Rosi), “Aquarius” (Kleber Mendonça Filho), “Spa Night” (Andrew Ahn), “Certain Women” (Kelly Reichardt)

Resolutions: Two years ago in this space, I reflected on the importance of diversity and education, while last year I connected those dots to the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Education program and our Artist & Industry programs supporting emerging film critics, artists and members of the industry as we continued the conversation about diversifying film culture  with a panel discussion on the topic.

Today much of our country and culture are in moment of deep anxiety ahead of Inauguration Day. As we explored during a recent Film Society dialogue with our friends at Film Quarterly, all of us in the film community must urgently consider the role of independent arts, artists, journalists and media makers.

This is our vital responsibility as we head into the new year.

35 Directors Pick Their Favorite Movies of 2016

Anne Hubbell, Vice President, Kodak Motion Pictures, Co-Founder, Tangerine Entertainment

So ready for 2016 to be over!  It was a crappy year on various levels, but there were a few highlights in features and TV. My list is 50% female created or co-created/written.  Of course, I didn’t see everything (I still haven’t watched “Nocturnal Animals,” “Jackie,” “Fences” or “Boo! A Madea Halloween,” among others), but here is some stuff I liked:


“American Honey”
I really fell for the energy and freedom of Andrea Arnold’s first U.S. feature, and for the young cast led by Sasha Lane.

Breathing new life into the personal documentary, Kirsten Johnson’s beautiful memoir shows how a filmmaker’s work, art and personal life are inherently intertwined.

“Certain Women”
Kelly Reichardt’s small town triptych slowly, surely succeeds with fine acting led by newcomer Lily Gladstone.

“The Fits”
Anna Rose Holmer’s debut feature introduces her fresh voice and Royalty Hightower to the screen.

“The Jungle Book”
Inventive animation, smart bear banter and genius Kurtz-in-the-cave reveal of King Louie.



Focus Features

Jeff Nichols’ beautiful, quiet take on love prevailing in the face of bigotry.

“Maggie’s Plan”
Rebecca Miller’s refreshing, smart romantic comedy with winning performances from Gerwig, Moore and Hawke.

“Manchester by the Sea”
Kenny Lonergan wrote an exquisite script and the acting is superb. This a gut punch of a movie.

On top of being a truly wonderful human being, Barry Jenkins proves he is a remarkably nuanced director.  This is THE movie of 2016.

“Toni Erdmann”
This movie was so hyped after Cannes that I thought it couldn’t possibly deliver, but it exceeded my expectations and any descriptions I had heard.  Director Maren Ade surprises at every turn.


“BoJack Horseman”
This hilarious, spot on portrayal of life in “Hollywoo” got funnier, darker and more heartbreaking in season three.

“The Crown”
Humanizing the Royals in the early days of QE2’s reign.

“Full Frontal With Samantha Bee”
Finally a late night show with a female host.  No surprise she is smarter and bolder than her male competition.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s bumbling, self-deprecating and charmingly tragic character makes this worth watching.

Because… Beyonce.

“O.J.: Made in America”
I watched all ten hours of this comprehensive, contextual documentary in three days.

“The People vs. O.J. Simpson:
The guilty pleasure that turned into required viewing.

“Saturday Night Live”
40+ seasons and SNL may be funnier and more relevant than ever.

“Stranger Things”
Nostalgic sci-fi/horror done right.

Sexy cowboy robots and mad scientists in stunning locations, set and costumes. What’s not to like?

Highlights from other mediums:

Arthouse Trump
Brilliant Twitter feed that hysterically imagined Donald Trump as a cinephile.  I am sorry it’s over.  And that Trump isn’t.

“You Must Remember This”
Karina Longworth’s podcast insightfully chronicles the romance and intrigue of old Hollywood’s fascinating true stories.

Julian Rosefeldt‘s meticulous 13 channel installation starring the always amazing Cate Blanchett as everyone from a homeless man to a diva choreographer.

2017: Lots to look forward to in 2017.  Let’s hope it is a better year that this one!  Here are a few things I am excited about:

Look for the film renaissance to be in full effect in 2017.  I have been working with a badass tech team for nearly two years to get 35mm, s16 and s8 processing back in New York.  Kodak Lab NYC opens January/February 2017! It will no doubt be a gamechanger for filmmakers at all levels looking to capture their work on glorious celluloid.

The Kodak Reel Film App will let you know what is screening in theaters and alternative venues on 35mm or 70mm wherever you are so you can seek out true cinematic experiences in 2017.

Film will be looking great in new seasons of “Walking Dead” “Westworld” and the debut of Judd Apatow’s “Crashing” on HBO, and in features by Noah Baumbach, Sean Baker, Stacy Cochran, Xavier Dolan, James Gray, Todd Haynes, Eliza Hittman, Alex Ross Perry, The Safdie Brothers, Steven Spielberg, Colin Trevarrow, Marc Webb, Noel Wells and others. Plus Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” in 70mm, Rian Johnson’s “Star Wars: Episode VIII” and Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman”!

Tangerine Entertainment

Spring 2017 will see two Tangerine features hitting theaters: Ferne Pearlstein’s provocative doc, “The Last Laugh” and Amber Tamblyn’s directorial debut adaptation of Janet Fitch’s novel, “Paint It Black.” Also, Rachel Isreal’s beautiful first feature, “Keep the Change,” will world premiere next year.

In summer 2017, we plan to launch Tanji, the first mobile app that curates, personalizes and guides you to women-centric film, TV and online content.  Anywhere, any time.  Think of it as a Feminist Fandango!

“Hail, Caesar!”

Kate Hurwitz, Cinetic Media

“Toni Erdmann”
“O.J.: Made in America”
“Hail, Caesar!”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“I Am Not Your Negro”
“Everybody Wants Some!!”
“20th Century Women”
“I, Daniel Blake”

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