Hispanic culture and identity are crucial parts of the movie industry that deserve to be commended this month and every month. There are immeasurable amounts of important stories that spotlight Hispanic heritage, and countless people help to bring those stories to life.
This month, celebrate Hispanic heritage by engaging with the following director, actor, and movie.
Guillermo Del Toro
Guillermo Del Toro is undoubtedly one of the best filmmakers of his generation. He’s an Academy Award winner and has directed films in a variety of genres like romance, action, and animation. Del Toro was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and attended the film program at the University of Guadalajara. In 2022, he won the Honoris Causa Doctorate from the National Autonomous University of Mexico for his contributions to world culture.
Del Toro’s first original film was meant to be a stop-motion animation project called Omnivore. The film was supposed to be about a lizard creature, and it’s a shame that Omnivore never saw the light of day. Del Toro put three years of work into this project before his set pieces were vandalized in a burglary. The project never came to fruition, but Del Toro’s perseverance to direct films after this first failure foreshadowed his future success in the movie industry.
Del Toro’s first film Cronos was a highly praised horror film and is a part of the prestigious Criterion Collection. He has since gone on to direct some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, such as the Hellboy franchise and Pacific Rim. He more recently directed Oscar winners like The Shape of Water and Pinocchio. Collectively, his films have grossed more than $1.2 billion worldwide.
Del Toro’s directing style is known to have a focus on practical effects, which works well with his love for humanoid monster creatures. This harmony is best showcased with The Asset from The Shape of Water or Hellboy. People have come to appreciate Del Toro’s innovation and design choices with real costumes and effects in an industry moving completely toward technology and computer-generated images.
Pedro Pascal is one of the biggest names in Hollywood right now. The actor has starred in television hits like Game of Thrones (GOT), The Last of Us, and The Mandalorian—he’s a pop-culture staple. He’s also had success in the film industry, where he had leading roles in Wonder Woman 1984 and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.
Born in Santiago, Chile, Pedro Pascal and his family moved to the United States when he was young. As a kid, Pascal was a competitive swimmer in school, but he dropped out of the sport to pursue an acting career—a wise choice. He went to NYU Tisch for acting and began his career with smaller roles in prominent shows like Homeland and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Pascal’s role as Oberyn Martell in GOT really put Pascal on the map, and viewers have loved him ever since.
Pascal’s roles also prove his wide acting range. When he’s acting as a villain, Pascal does a great job of fooling the viewers into thinking he’s a friendly, trustworthy character just to turn on them and break their hearts. On the other hand as a protagonist, Pascal is able to embody the begrudging but lovable hero who you can’t help but root for.
Pascal is also an avid advocate for a number of social issues. He is a strong supporter of the transgender community and LGBTQ+ rights. He’s also invested in Peruvian politics, supporting Gabriel Boric in the most recent Peruvian presidential election.
Pascal is becoming a rising figure in the meme industry alongside Nicolas Cage. He has become a father figure in more ways than one. People have picked up on a pattern of Pascal playing characters who have to protect children in a father-son relationship, and they can’t get enough of it. He also comes off as a really funny and relatable guy.
“I’m just an actor, and my back is killing me,” Pascal said at the Kingsman: The Golden Circle world premiere.
Wild Tales is a Spanish-Argentinian film with a unique premise for comedy fans. The film is directed by Damián Szifron, premiered in 2014, and received positive reviews from critics. What really makes Wild Tales stand out is its anthology story format and its strong sense of dark humor.
The film is a collection of six stories that feel reminiscent of Black Mirror. They all deal with themes of regret and deceit. The basic layout of the stories starts with a person committing a wrong but then taking it too far. The characters have to deal with the moral consequences of their actions as karma catches up to them.
One particular story titled “Las Ratas” follows Julieta Zylberberg as a waitress. Her longtime family enemy (César Bordón) walks into the restaurant, and she has the opportunity to poison him. The waitress initially declines to use the poison, but her coworker (Rita Cortese) picks up the mission and poisons the man’s food anyway. The waitress decides to leave the poison but instantly regrets her decision when the family enemy’s son walks in. What follows next is chaos and destruction.
What’s interesting about this story is that greed got the better of the waitress, who was well-intentioned at the start. Deep down she was initially happy to see her enemy suffer, but regretted her decision once she was faced with the real consequences. Don’t let me make the film sound too dark and brooding, though—it’s peppered with comedy and funny moments that keep audiences laughing amongst the movie’s darker and serious themes.