Sometimes it seems as if streaming TV has taken over from the cinema but these two Latin American titles from the recent Spanish Film festival and now – or about to be – released in cinemas have struck this viewer far more than anything on the small screen this month.

Mariana Di Girolamo and Gael García Bernal in Ema. Image © Pablo Larraín

Ema, from Chile, and Heroic Losers, from Argentina, are both impressive though in entirely different ways. In Ema’s opening half-hour I wasn’t sure if I actively liked this latest film from Chilean director Pablo Larrain ( Jackie; Neruda) but I couldn’t tear my eyes away, an experience that endured until the very end.

The film’s eponymous protagonist Ema (newcomer Mariana Di Girolamo) is a dancer with a troupe based in the port city of Valparaiso. Her partner Gastón (played by Latin cinema’s most internationally recognised star, Gael García Bernal) is considerably older than her and is also the group’s director. Their partnership is not at a healthy stage, largely due to their painful experience with an adopted...