You don’t often hear about Ecuador’s movie industry on the international stage but it does exist and the country has produced some great pieces of cinema over the years. To help tune your ear into the Ecuadorean accent during your time in Quito and gain a bit more insight into Ecuador’s culture and history, here are six Ecuadorean movies to watch on a rainy day at home.
1. Que Tan Lejos (2006)
This is the debut film of Ecuadorean director Tania Hermida and one of the biggest box office successes in Ecuador. It’s a road movie that follows the journeys of Ecuadorean student Tristeza and Spanish tourist Esperanza, who meet by chance and end up traveling together from Quito to Cuenca through the Andes and along the Pacific Coast. Both girls are on a mission: Tristeza wants to stop her ex from getting married and Esperanza is looking for adventure. When their bus journey is unexpectedly interrupted in the middle of the Andes, they have to improvise the rest of their way to Cuenca, meeting some impactful characters along the way. It’s both a physical journey and a journey in self-discovery for the two girls. This is a touching, easy-to-watch comedy with some breathtaking scenery that will make you want to embark on your own journey through Ecuador.
2. La Muerte de Jaime Roldós (2013)
While the JFK assassination conspiracy continues to be a talking point to this day, a lesser known but equally controversial presidential death is that of Ecuadorean President Jaime Roldós in 1981. As the first democratically elected president of Ecuador in 1979, Roldós was widely respected for his firm stance on human rights but his term was tragically cut short in 1981 when he died in a suspicious plane crash along with his wife. This interesting documentary combines investigative journalism with real film footage of Roldós’ presidency and interviews with people closely involved at the time. After many years of silence, it revisits this tumultuous period in Ecuador’s history and takes a closer look at the sequence of events, posing the question of a probable assassination. It also exposes how Roldós’ three children were used and manipulated by other family members following his death to gain votes for their emerging populist political party.
3. La Tigra (1990)
This is a film adaptation of the well-known short story by José de la Cuadra — one of Ecuador’s most important writers. The story addresses the harsh sexual politics of a conservative culture and the position of the virile woman. Its content was highly controversial at the time and the film has become somewhat of a cult classic today. The protagonist and ´Tigress` of the movie is the wild and promiscuous Francisca, the eldest of three sisters, who together manage a farm in rural Ecuador. Her sexual exploits are a central topic of film but the plot starts to thicken when a medicine man informs Francisca and her sister Juliana that their youngest sister Sara must remain a virgin in order to protect the future of their farm and land. Police then receive complaints from Sara’s fiancée that Sara has been locked up by her other two sisters, raising issues of personal freedom and sadomasochism.
4. Ratas, Ratones, Rateros (1999)
This is another one of the most famous movies to have come out of Ecuador and was responsible for putting Ecuador’s film industry on the international stage. It’s the work of Ecuadorean writer-director Sebastián Cordero and a dark, gritty and compelling take on criminal life and the real-life struggles of the lower classes in Quito and Guayaquil. The main character is Salvador who’s strangely appealing and naive yet completely amoral. He starts out as a petty thief but gets involved in more serious criminal behavior with the arrival of his cousin Angel, who is an ex-convict looking to make some quick money.
5. Mejor No Hablar (de Ciertas Cosas) (2012)
Directed by Javier Andrade, this film, also known as the “The Porcelain Horse” in English is an exposé into the corruption and sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyles of the middle classes of Ecuador, concealed behind a mask of bourgeois stability. It centers on the lives of Paco Chavez and his younger brother Luis who steal a porcelain horse from their parents’ house to pawn for drug money. When their father catches them, a series of nail-biting events ensue.
6. Cronicas (2004)
By the same director Sebastián Cordero of Ratas, Ratones, Rateros fame, this gripping thriller follows a series of rape and murder cases of children in rural Ecuador and one television journalist Manolo Bonilla’s quest to get to the bottom of them (played by well-known Colombian actor John Leguizamo). Test yourself and see if you can distinguish between the different Spanish accents in the movie that come from Ecuador, Mexico, Colombia and Spain.
Watched any other good Ecuadorean movies lately? Add your recommendations to our comments section below.