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Los Lobos directed by Samuel Kishi Leopo
Los Lobos directed by Samuel Kishi Leopo

Samuel Kishi Leopo’s Los Lobos received the most audience votes to win the prestigious Cinelatino & DishLATINO Audience Choice award at the 2021 Hola Mexico Film Festival (HMFF). Los Lobos tells the story of Lucía, a young Mexican mother, who crosses the border from Mexico into the United States with her sons, Max and Leo, in search of a better life. But the transition is difficult for the boys, who spend their days stuck in an unfurnished apartment while Lucía works multiple jobs. Inside their own kingdom of imagination, the adorable Max and Leo create an alternative reality, depicted as animated sequences. Buoyed by the support of some helpful neighbors and their love for each other, this small family tries hard to stay afloat as they await the day when they can finally visit Disneyland together.

The Cinelatino & DishLATINO Best Feature Film Director award went to Fernanda Valadez for Sin Señas Particulares. A devastating meditation on the effects of violence on society from the point of view of a mother desperately searching for her child, Sin Señas Particulares follows the story of the middle-aged Magdalena who has lost all contact with her son. Journeying to the U.S. border with a friend, the young man hoped to cross over and find work. But as the number of disappearances in Mexico continues to grow every day, everything points to the worst-case scenario; Magdalena needs to know with certainty whether her son is dead or alive. With the determination and courage that only a mother can muster, she embarks on a treacherous journey to find answers in dangerous places with the help Miguel, a young man deported from the U.S. who’s on his way to his own hometown. Anchored on an incredible performance by Mercedes Hernandez, the film takes an unforgettable look into the darkest corners of a country in crisis.

After receiving the most audience votes in the short film category, Merced Elizondo took home the Cinelatino & DishLATINO Tomorrow’s Filmmakers Today Short award for his entry, Manos de Oro. The short follows Sergio, a former mechanic, who is in the middle of a crippling battle with arthritis. When the opportunity to fix an old family-friend’s truck arises, Sergio begins a downward spiral towards denial and self-destructive behavior in an attempt to regain his identity as a working man with purpose. As a result, his already-strained relationship with his son is put to the test.

“Through our work with the Hola Mexico Film Festival, we continue raising awareness of the myriad important contributions made by Mexican filmmakers. This event provides an avenue for specifically highlighting and recognizing the Mexican cinematic tradition, while offering increased exposure to up-and-coming talent and the next wave of influential work,” said Samuel Douek, Director of Hola Mexico Film Festival. “I am thrilled to once again offer the festival experience to our fans and followers—as safely as possible. Thanks to all who joined us, and congratulations to this year’s winners; and of course, a huge thank you to Cinelatino and DishLATINO for their support of our efforts!”

2021 marks the 13th year since the festival’s inception. Twenty films and 18 shorts comprised this year’s edition, which was divided into four film sections: “México Ahora,” “Nocturno,” “Documental,” and “El Otro México.” For those who were unable to attend this year’s event, the festivities continue at home on DishLATINO On Demand with Cinelatino’s curated special collection of films that have premiered at HMFF over the last decade.

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