The Movie List


I am a big believer in the power of video and movies to teach and convey messages not possible with only the written word. I have listed here some of the best films related to El Salvador. Each one also has a link where you can get more information or to acquire a copy of the film.

Romero. The movie which tells the tale of the beloved pastor of the Salvadoran poor. Link

Innocent Voices.  Academy award nominated movie about child soldiers during El Salvador's civil war. Link

Return to El Salvador.  Documents the aftermath of a 12 year civil war and the interplay between the Salvadoran people and the US politics and policies that directly influence the Central American country. Link.

Which Way Home?  The film follows several unaccompanied child migrants from Central America as they journey through Mexico en route to the U.S. on a freight train they call “ The Beast.” It puts a child's face onto the topic of migration. Link.

Chronic Neglect: The Water Crisis in El Salvador. Through everyday stories, "Chronic Neglect" documents the failures of an unregulated system which rewards waste and allows unequal access to water, a situation that demands prompt attention to the human right to water in El Salvador. Link.

Until the Last Drop: Tales from the Battle for El Salvador's Water. While the debate over water management rages worldwide, this documentary examines opposing visions of water management as they clash in El Salvador. Until the Last Drop illustrates how regulatory collapse and a legislative stalemate on water reform has real-life impacts for the health and well-being of people who need water to survive. Link

Guazapa: The Face of War in El Salvador. In 1983 war correspondent Don North went behind the guerilla lines in El Salvador to spend two months in Guazapa, one of the bloodiest battlegrounds of the civil war. This revealing documentary showed the world the real civilian costs of that conflict. Link.

Guazapa: Yesterday's Enemies.  Documents El Salvador’s post-war problems of soaring crime, massive migration and a fragile economy. The film highlights Salvadoran hopes for change and shows how the candidate of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) — the post-war political party of the guerillas — won the election for president in March 2009. Link.

Surviving Guazapa.   Returning to the Guazapa volcano during the civil war, this movie is one of the first full length feature films made entirely in El Salvador. Link.

Roses in December. Documentary about the life of Jean Donovan, a lay missionary who was one of 4 US church women assassinated in December 1980 in El Salvador. Link.

Enemies of War.  Excellent PBS documentary about the murder of 6 Jesuit priests and their housekeeper in El Salvador in 1989.  Link.

Salvador In this Oliver Stone film, a journalist, down on his luck in the US, drives to El Salvador to chronicle the events of the 1980 military dictatorship, including the assasination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Link

Justice and the Generals. On December 2, 1980, four American churchwomen -- Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Jean Donovan, and Dorothy Kazel -- were found raped and murdered near San Salvador. This is the story about an unfinished search for truth and accountabilityLink.

Recycled Life.  Award-winning documentary about the guajeros, the persons who earn their livelihoods in the Guatemala City dump. Link

Endless Exodus. This film examines the lives of the illegal immigrant from homes in Central America and Mexico to difficult lives working in the US economy. Link.

Testimony: The Maria Guardado Story.   Maria Guardado was kidnapped and tortured during El Salvador's civil war. This documentary traces how that searing experience drove her to become a prominent activist in the Los Angeles area. (Link)

Maria's Story.  Maria Serrano was a wife, mother, and guerrilla leader. With unprecedented access to FMLN guerrilla camps, the filmmakers chronicle Maria’s daily life in the war as she travels from village to village organizing the peasant population, and helps plan a major nationwide offensive that led the FMLN into the historic peace pact of 1992. (Link)

When The Mountains Tremble. This award winning film tells the story of Rigoberta Menchu, the indigenous Guatemalan woman who struggled for the rights of her people during Guatemala's civil war and ultimately won the Nobel Peace Prize. (Link)

Not A Game.  This powerful documentary looks at child labor across the world, including the children who work in the mangrove swamps of El Salvador.  Link.

18 With A Bullet.  PBS documentary about the "18", one of the two dominant gangs in El Salvador. Link

Scar of Memory. Documentary about the 1932 massacre in El Salvador of thousands of indigenous peasants following an uprising led by Farabundo Marti.  Link.

Our Backyard: Realities of War. Offering a close-up view of personal experiences of the violence, suffering, loss and displacement that resulted from raising families in the turbulence of civil war, Our Backyard, focuses on three families in El Salvador and Nicaragua who were caught between internationally financed armed forces and the local guerrilla resistance. Link.

Mano con Mano: Stories of Solidarity. Two families reflect on how becoming involved in solidarity with El Salvador has enriched and changed their lives.  Link.

If you know of other movies and documentaries which ought to be on the list, let me know using the comment feature on this page.


Hilary said…
Salvador is entertaining, but incredibly misleading in terms of the actual events and dynamics of the war and the nation itself...
Hilary said…
'la vida loca' is a powerful, if shocking, insight into the life and violence of gangs in el salvador
Youth Director said…
"Sin Nombre" is a movie about a boy in the MS13 gang. Though this movie isn't about ES per se, it gives an insight into gang life.
Unknown said…
como puedo ver los documentales?
Suz said…
World's Most Dangerous Gang, by National Geographic, is about the MS-13.
esquiet said…
El lugar más pequeño


Ever Amado


El cadáver exquisito


Cinema libertad
ForestBosque said…
Harvest of Empire: The Untold Story of Latinos in America

This is a powerful documentary about how U.S. policies either directly invite Latin Americans to emmigrate to the United States or indirectly force them out of their county. El Salvador is one of the countries covered in this film. In the midst of all the debate about immigration "reform" this movies is especially timely.
Unknown said…
Unknown said…
Unknown said…
In the Name of the People.
Unknown said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Faisal Usman said…
I was searching for Top 10 movies of all time and I found your blog. I must say that Salvador is a good movie. I have bookmarked your blog for your future updates. Thanks again for providing the list of Best Movies. keep publishing the good work.
Unknown said…
I share same passion with you about movies, because i think words are limited and video can bring more on the table in spreading and understanding massages. On the post are few movie that I had watch online in past year, Return to El Salvador, Enemies of War, Guazapa: Yesterday's Enemies, I'm not completely informed about El Salvador full story, but i know that War is never good thing. Anyway great post.
Kevin said…
Some of the films in this list do provide the viewer with a glimpse of what life was and is like in El Salvador through the decades. However, to a non-Salvadoran, they can be misleading as they do not accurately portray the Salvadoran individual. e.g. The Most Dangerous Gang, MS negatively and adversely portrays the hard working Salvadorans that reside in the United States. The dominant culture will as a result form a biased perspective of Salvadorans.
Unknown said…
Yes, this one is missing. A good documentary.
Unknown said…
Yes, this one is missing. A good documentary.
Michael Terry said…
Fusilemos La Noche is a terrific documentary about the life of Roque Dalton.