Even though not the most popular and famous cinematography coming from Latin America, Ecuador has some interesting hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered.
These are mostly dramas that will teach us about the living situations and relationships between people, the socioeconomic status of their protagonists and the consequences many of them have to face after certain decisions. This is the list of the 12 best Ecuadorian movies of all time.
Ratas, Ratones, Rateros (Rats, Mice, Petty Thieves,1999)
Definitely one of the first Ecuadorian movies that come to mind is this action drama about Salvador, a young petty thief who changes a lot upon the arrival of his cousin Angel. Angel is an ex-convict who wants to make easy money and drags Salvador into all of that.
Salvador will be involved in a set of criminal activities that will at first be extremely appealing to him, but slowly, after his family and friends get involved in everything, he will start to realise that he should get out of everything before it gets too late.
Que tan lejos (How Much Further, 2006)
Road movies often bring the audience so much more than they bargained for. Breathtaking landscapes, an unforgettable soundtrack and a story that is difficult to forget. This story about two girls who need to get to Cuenca is a remarkable journey where these girls will find purpose in their lives and rethink their past decisions.
Esperanza and Tristeza both want to get to Cuenca but their bus gets delayed due to a workers’ strike. They decide to risk everything and hitchhike to the city and on this journey, they meet many intriguing and interesting characters who help them find a deeper meaning in the things they were starting to have questions about.
En el nombre de la hija (In the Name of the Girl, 2011)
This comedy-drama takes us back to 1976 when a nine-year Manuela finds herself between the political and social views of her communist and atheist father and a conservative and deeply religious grandmother. Both of them believe they have a say in their upbringing and seem to find it hard to get along and agree on the ways of doing that.
When Manuela meets her crazy uncle who is hidden in the library of her family’s farmhouse, she will realise that it is time to start expressing her views and ideologies, the ones that got her into conflict with almost everyone in her family. This movie expresses criticism toward Ecuadorian Christianity and capitalism from the point of view of a liberal, rebellious little girl.
Pescador (Fisherman, 2011)
Blanquito lives with his mother in a small fishing village on the coast of Ecuador and spends the majority of his days on the beach, together with other fishermen. When one day the beach is found covered in cocaine packets, Blanquito will, together with his friend Lorna, decide to travel to Guayaquil to sell it for a much higher sum of money.
Blanquito is completely unprepared for this journey, driven by the smell and power of money and he will be fully unaware of the situations he will get himself into. He will stare at death’s face numerous times and surprise even himself with the actions and decisions he will do for love.
Mejor no hablar (de ciertas cosas) (The Porcelain Horse, 2012)
Another drama about a young man whose life is everything but boring. It is easygoing and charming, full of illicit drugs and a forbidden love affair. Paco Chavez is in a relationship with his former high school sweetheart who is now married to another man.
Since Paco always needs more money for drugs, he decides to break and enter his parent’s home, along with his younger brother Luis, and steal a porcelain horse they will later pawn. This situation will end up in them getting caught by their father which will lead to a fight whose consequences will haunt them for the rest of their lives.
Dedicada a mi ex (2019)
This hilarious comedy tells the story of a group of misfits who enter a music video contest to win a cash prize, but they completely forgot that they have to actually know how to play and be good at music.
This movie is fast-paced, simple and easy to follow, but extremely charming and a great choice to spend a nice afternoon in front of the screen. It is inventive, with a creatin freshness often needed in those kinds of movies.
Prometeo Deportado (Deporting Prometeo, 2011)
In this drama, we follow a group of Ecuadorian tourists who are arrested at an airport while waiting on their plane. They are somewhere in the European Union where they are from the beginning not treated as other passengers. Now they are taken to a room where they have to wait to be deported.
All of them are hiding something and they need to get out, but there is no time and no way to escape. They will have to rely on something more than common sense and put their faith in one of them, a magician who might help them escape by creating an illusion.
The Death of Jaime Roldos (2013)
This intriguing and appraised documentary tells the story of the Ecuadorian beloved president Jaime Roldos whose sudden death shook the whole nation. He and his wife died in a suspicious plane crash and the movie will bring two possible explanations behind their death. He was described as a generous man who tried to bring democracy to this continent led mostly by cruel dictators.
The documentary examines his two deaths: one that was probably a conspiracy against him and his political views and ideas and the other of his children’s manipulation through various members of his family. We will also be introduced to an unknown and shocking discovery about Latin America.
Sin muertos no hay carnaval (Such Is Life in the Tropics, 2016)
In this thriller, we are taken to a land where a young man needs to evict 250 people who are squatting on his father’s territory. Their leader is willing to negotiate since he is well aware that there might be blood spilt if they don’t find a possible solution.
This movie is about pride and strong will, about people from the city of Guayaquil who are not prepared to be taken over by the wealthy men not belonging to their society.
Alba is a young girl who has to take care of her sick mother, tend to her needs and simply try not to be a normal 11-years old child. After the night when her mother gets sick and is taken to the hospital, Alba’s life changes completely. She is to live with her estranged father who she hasn’t seen since she was three.
It is a nightmare living with him since she needs to deal with so much more than trying to get to know him. Puberty, new friendships and first kisses, visits to her mother and bullying at school are only some of the challenges Alba will have to face in this journey to growth and self-acceptance.
La maldicion del tesoro de Atahualpa (A Son of Man, 2018)
This is an interesting movie about a young man from Minneapolis who joins his mysterious father in Ecuador on a quest for Incan gold. But as it almost always is, this journey will become so much more than a simple treasure hunt.
Their father-son relationship will grow deeper and they will realise that they can’t escape all the secrets and family demons they tried to hide all these years. This movie is a combination of fantasy and reality, a family drama based on historical facts spiced up with a little bit of mystery.
Cuando me toque a mi (2006)
What starts as a crime drama soon develops into a full-blooded difficult drama about Dr. Arturo Fernandez who works at the city morgue. Arturo is faced with many tragic destinies and deaths, but he soon develops an intimate relationship with the personal lives of his cases. Isolated and lonely, Arturo will be forced to question his relationship with both the living and the dead.
This movie shows us a gloomy way of life in Ecuador’s capital Quito, brilliantly depicting the individuals living and trying to survive there. It is morbid, with some traces of humour, but all in all a great study of the human mind and our possibility to adapt to many possible and impossible situations.