By Monica Castillo

The 2019 iteration of the Sundance Film Festival kicks off Thursday and there are dozens of titles to choose from, including the opening night premieres of “Native Son,” “After the Wedding” and one of the films on this list, “The Edge of Democracy.”

There are several Latino and Latin American filmmakers and talent in features, shorts and VR categories to experience at Sundance. There are documentaries on a family-run ambulance company in “Midnight Family” and on the plight of the endangered vaquita whales in “Sea of Shadows.” Some notable stars include Eiza González in “Paradise Hills,” Tony Revolori in “The Sounds of Silence” and Gina Torres in “Selah and the Spades.”

Headed to Park City and don’t know where to start? Check out these five titles by or about Latino and Latino American subjects:

“The Infiltrators”

Maynor Alvarado and Manuel Uriza appear in "The Infiltrators" by Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera, an official selection at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute-photo by Lisa RinzlerLisa Rinzler / Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Directed by film making team Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra and based on a true story, “The Infiltrators” is a movie about immigration, detainment centers and the activists and undocumented people fighting to stay in the United States. When Claudio Rojas is arrested in Florida and slated for deportation, his family contacts a group of activist Dreamers for help. While on their rescue mission to help Claudio, the group exposes the darker side of the deportation industrial complex. Notably, this film isn’t set in the present day, but during the Obama Administration when deportations reached unprecedented highs.

“This is not Berlin”

Xabiani Ponce de Leon appears in "This is not Berlin" by Hari Sama, an official selection at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.Alfredo Altamirano / Courtesy of Sundance Institute

In mid-80s Mexico, Carlos and his best friend Gera discover an underground nightclub that introduces the teens to a lifestyle of art, sex and drugs beyond their boring suburban norms. Set to a soundtrack of post-punk tracks, Hari Sama’s autobiographical “This is not Berlin” is a coming-of-age story for the misfits, for the kids who don’t want to grow up to be normal and the ones still discovering who they are.

“The Edge of Democracy”

A still from "The Edge of Democracy" by Petra Costa, an official selection at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.Orlando Brito / Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Confused by what’s going on in Brazil? You’re not alone. How did one of the most progressive countries in Latin America politically swing so far to the right? With incredible access to the behind-the-scenes politics, director Petra Costa retraces Brazil’s steps from its formerly fascist days to the period of prosperity overseen by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the subsequent downfall of his party when his successor, Dilma Rousseff, was accused of corruption. Brazil is not the only country to have shifted to more conservative policies, and there’s a lesson to be learned from its recent political upheavals.

“Knock Down the House”

A still of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from "Knock Down The House" by Rachel Lears, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute - photo by Rachel LearsRachel Lears / Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Perhaps one of the most anticipated premieres at the festival is Rachel Lears’s multi-story documentary about four women who ran for office in 2018: Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin and now the youngest member in Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Lears captures the early days of these women’s efforts to upset a complacent political party that had written them off, and in the process, help inspire a renewed hope in politics.

“Divine Love”

A still from "Divine Love" by Gabriel Mascaro, an official selection at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Set in a Brazil of the near future, where spiritual concerts have taken over carnaval as the country’s biggest event, “Divine Love” is a complicated exploration of faith, sex, love and miracles. A devout married woman named Joana uses her job as a notary to urge couples looking for divorce to give their relationship a second chance, underhandedly inviting them to her love-based church. Yet, she feels as if her mission falls short because she cannot conceive. “Neon Bull” director Gabriel Mascaro divides Joana’s world into the colorless architecture of her bureaucratic workplace, her colorfully painted home and the sensually neon lit church services where the boundaries of what is holy and sacrilege are tested. It’s a movie so odd and yet so alluring that it’s difficult to look away during its stranger scenes.

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