Samuel Kishi Leopo

Mexico, 2019 / 95 min / Spanish, English & Cantonese OV with French or English subt. / Drama

After illegally immigrating into the US, two Mexican boys use their imagination to make sense of the world around them.

In search of a better life, Max and Leo are taken by their mother, Lucía, from Mexico to Albuquerque in the United States. While Lucía tries to make ends meet by working various jobs, the two brothers spend their days in their sparsely furnished one-room flat. Struggling to gain a foothold in their new home, their mother suggests that they listen to English lessons on an old tape recorder. As the boys improve their English, they also build an imaginary universe with their drawings and dream about going to Disneyland. The walls of the room, which they are forbidden to leave, become a projection screen for imaginative adventures. From the confinement of the four walls, they explore the world around them.

“Director Samuel Kishi Leopo recalls aspects of his own childhood in Los Lobos and resituates them in a currently highly charged context – brutally honest and yet poetic, melancholic and full of hope.” Berlinale


Thu 04/03 19:00 Cinémathèque ES & EN OV with EN subt. Public
Fri 05/03 10:00 Public
Sun 07/03 19:00 Ciné Utopia ES & EN OV with FR subt. Public
Sat 13/03 16:00 Ciné Utopia ES & EN OV with FR subt. Public

„As if it were a fable whispered in your ear by a soothing voice, Los Lobos (The Wolves) radiates melancholic warmth with its story of a mother and her sons starting from scratch in a foreign land. Told with unassuming force by Samuel Kishi Leopo, the Mexican director’s second semi-autobiographical feature doesn’t overlook the harsh truths but returns to hope; it is capable of both wounding and healing one’s heartstrings with its gentle touch. […] A miracle of emotional precision and tenderhearted storytelling, “Los Lobos” is a major work from an artist with a precious sensibility for portraying the purest expressions of sorrow and joy. […] In a world so severely lacking compassion, Kishi Leopo’s latest feels like the cinematic equivalent of a tight embrace that reminds us we can howl ourselves out of any storm.” Carlos Aguilar,, 31/07/2020

“An already moving film is given an unforeseen blush of relevance in these trying times by refracting an immigration story through the prism of a childhood experience of forced isolation. […] Octavio Arauz’ sensitive, appropriately constrained, close-up camerawork walks the fine aesthetic line between sentimental nostalgia and hard, ugly reality, making the images appealing to look at without romancing the squalor. […] the director also inserts a series of dignified, documentary-style portraits of the Albuquerque locals who hang around the block. This unobtrusively expands his modest film’s scope, making it not only a hazily heartfelt memoir of hardship, but also gradually building up a picture of a community.” Jessica Kiang, Variety, 30/06/2020

  • Best Film, BUFF – Malmö International Film Festival, 2020 (Sweden)
  • Peace Film Award, Berlin International Film Festival, 2020 (Germany)
  • Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus International Jury, Berlin International Film Festival, 2020 (Germany)
  • Best Film, Burgas International Film Festival, 2020 (Bulgaria)
  • Special Mention – International Narrative Competition, Calgary International Film Festival, 2020 (Canada)
  • Special Jury Award, Fribourg International Film Festival, 2020 (Switzerland)
  • MEZCAL Award for the Best Actress, Guadalajara International Film Festival, 2020 (Mexico)
  • Special Jury Prize, Guadalajara International Film Festival, 2020 (Mexico)
  • Audience Award, Guadalajara International Film Festival, 2020 (Mexico)
  • FIPRESCI Prize for the Best Film, Guadalajara International Film Festival, 2020 (Mexico)
  • Best Film, Guanajuato International Film Festival, 2020 (Mexico)
  • Bridging the Borders Award for the Best Film, LUCAS – International Festival for Young Film Lovers, 2020 (Germany)
  • Best Film – HBO Ibero-American Competition, Miami Film Festival, 2020 (USA)
  • Critics Award, Olhar de Cinema – Curitiba International Film Festival, 2020 (Brazil)
  • Best Feature Film, Olympia International Film Festival for Children and Young People, 2020 (Greece)
  • Hellenic Parliament “Human Values” Award, Olympia International Film Festival for Children and Young People, 2020 (Greece)
  • Best Picture, Havana Film Festival, 2019 (Cuba)
Cast & Credits
Martha Reyes Arias, Maximiliano Nájar Márquez, Leonardo Nájar Márquez, Cici Lau, Johnson T. Lau
Samuel Kishi Leopo, Sofía Gómez Córdoba, Luis Briones
Octavio Arauz
Miguel Hernández Montero, Mario Martínez Cobos
Hania Robledo
Kenji Kishi Leopo
Animal de Luz Films
FiGa Films

Samuel Kishi Leopo was born in Mexico in 1984 and studied audiovisual arts at the University of Guadalajara where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree. He has directed numerous short films which were shown at over 100 international festivals including Clermont-Ferrand, Cannes and Morelia. His short Mari Pepa (2011) won the Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences’ Best Short Film Award. His debut feature, Somos Mari Pepa, was presented in the Berlinale’s Generation strand in 2014 and was nominated for three Mexican Ariel Awards. The Wolves (2019) is his second feature film.

  • 2019 – Los lobos
  • 2016 – Juglares del Gol (documentary TV series)
  • 2013 – Somos Mari Pepa
  • 2011 – Mari Pepa (short)
  • 2010 – Acerca del drama de los calcetines (short)
  • 2009 – Luces negras (short)
  • 2006 – Memoria viva (documentary short)