The word for the region of Central America is diversity. The 13 countries that comprise Central America boast a diversity of cultures, cuisines, flora, and fauna that make the region an unbeatable vacation destination.
What’s the best way to prepare for a Central American vacation? One way is to work up your fitness so you can go on great hikes. And most certainly, you want to ensure you’ve arranged all your travel plans properly.
But the best thing you can do? Watch movies set and shot in Central America.
Here are four standout films set in the region.
1. Panama: The Kneeling Goddess
Panama is known for, above all else, the canal. But visitors to the country may fall so deeply in love with the lush jungles, the luxury real estate in Costa Del Este, and the pleasant people that they may feel inclined to stay permanently.
The goddess of Central American cinema herself, Mexico’s Maria Felix, stars in the Panama-set The Kneeling Goddess, in which a man falls for a beautiful and enchanting woman (Felix), despite being married. He doesn’t realize until it’s too late that she is also an all-powerful and quite moody goddess.
2. Costa Rica: Land of Ashes
Shot in the Limón province on the country’s east coast, this coming-of-age film was the first Costa Rican film to be presented at the Cannes Film Festival. Directed by the trailblazing Sofía Quirós, Land of Ashes follows a young girl’s tormented decision about whether or not to help her grandfather satisfy his wish to come to the end of his life.
Full of unexpected comedy and color, Land of Ashes touches on local mythology about snakes as powerful and clever tricksters.
3. Mexico: Roma
Alfonso Cuarón is one of the world’s pre-eminent filmmakers, and Roma is his undisputed masterpiece. The film made history by casting an indigenous actress (Yalitza Aparicio, of Mixtec and Triqui descent) in its lead role.
Roma follows Aparicio as a maid working for a wealthy half Mexican, half white family in the upper-class Colonia Roma neighborhood in Mexico City. We see her fall in love, get broken up with, learn a martial art, go to the movies, experience death, birth, and revolution — all in just over two hours.
Roma is a celebration of life in all its beauty, mundanity, and glory — an ode to the epic in the lives of everyday people.
4. Nicaragua: La Yuma
La Yuma is the first independent, locally produced feature out of Nicaragua. That’s quite a feat for a country completely knocked off its feet in the 1980s by intense political unrest. For a long time, Nicaragua wasn’t a safe place to travel to or even for locals to live.
La Yuma captures the resilience and spirit of the Nicaraguan people beautifully. It focuses on a young girl named Yuma who dreams of becoming a pro boxer. Yuma breaks stereotypical conventions to become the person she wants to be, not the person she’s supposed to be.
Explore Central America
You don’t need to book a plane ticket to explore Central America. Go to your favorite streaming site and see what the region has to show you. Who knows, maybe the lush settings will make you want to invest in a property and stay there permanently.