Notably, the authoritarian regimes of Latin America during the Cold War have been discussed not only in the academy but also by the arts. The conflicts and violence of the period have been depicted in several plays, performances, testimonios, memoirs, poems, novels, paintings, and films. This thesis focuses on the latter, and its main goal is to investigate the links between cinema and the making of national memory about the collective trauma caused by the dirty wars of the second half of the XIX century through an examination of selected Brazilian and Mexican movies. The choice to analyze films from Brazil and Mexico serves three purposes: firstly, to demonstrate the connections between movies and memory making, proving the pertinence of the concept of memorial films; secondly, to show that Mexican cinema has produced memorial films and in doing so contribute to understanding the country’s experiences under authoritarianism; lastly, to discuss the political and aesthetic features of memorial films. Additionally, by showing that Mexican cinema has produced memorial films that follow the same characteristics of the Brazilian memorial cinema, this thesis reiterates the argument that there was a dirty war in Mexico from the 1960s to the 1980s --despite the democratic façade. I analyze two movies from each country. From Mexico, I examine Rojo Amanecer (1989), directed by Jorge Fons, and El Bulto (1991), directed by Gabriel Retes, who also plays the main character. From Brazil, I analyze the films O que é isso, companheiro? (1997), directed by Bruno Barreto, and Memórias do Medo (1981), directed by Alberto Graça. The main umbrella that allows us to group these four movies together is the fact that all of them have references to ‘memory knots’, a metaphor used by Steve Stern. Moreover, the four movies address major transitions in their respective countries: the Brazilian films address mechanisms of transitional justice, and the Mexican films address the transition to neoliberalism. In the chapter dedicated to Brazilian memorial films, I discuss the subtle interplay between cultural works and transitional justice mechanisms by examining the depictions of the amnesty law and the party reform law in Barreto’s and Graça’s films. This chapter shows that while O que é isso, companheiro? reverberates with the official ideologies behind the amnesty law, Memórias do Medo is very critical of the party reform it represents. The comparison between these two films reiterates Atencio’s argument that cultural works that exemplify the zeitgeist of their respective countries enjoy greater popularity. In the Mexican chapter, I discuss depictions of authoritarianism and paramilitarism in Fons’ and Retes’ works, which were the first feature films to address the massacres of Tlatelolco and Corpus Christi, respectively. I argue that Rojo amanecer promotes the idea of reconciliation by memory, while El bulto upholds the idea of reconciliation by oblivion.