Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on the contributions of the women in our lives and in the industries that make the media and entertainment we consume, including film. Despite the major contributions of women in directorial roles, Latina directors remain underrepresented and overlooked, which is why it’s important to do the work of seeking out and supporting their films. Not to mention that many Latina directors have created work in the past that has stood the test of time and become iconic symbols of the Latinx community, and continue to create groundbreaking work and open the doors for the next generation of aspiring Latina directors. This is not an exhaustive list but is a round-up of a select few contemporary Latina directors who are making important strides in their industry. Read on to learn more about 10 groundbreaking Latina directors who are bringing pride to their community and who you need to know about.
Celina Murga is an Argentine director, screenwriter, and producer best known for her first feature film Ana and the Others, which she directed and wrote. It follows a young woman as she returns to her home city of Paraná, searches for her long-lost love, reunites with past friends, makes new ones, and forever changes the trajectory of her life. Since then, Murga has made seven films across many genres including short films and documentaries, garnered high praise for her work internationally, and advocated for more women in directorial roles in the film industry. She was also chosen to be mentored by storied filmmaker Martin Scorsese, who executive-produced her most recent film The Third Side of the River.
Lucrecia Martel is an Argentine director, screenwriter, and producer who has made four critically acclaimed films including her debut La Ciénaga, which follows a bourgeois family spending their summer vacation in their old country estate in Salta, Argentina, only to run into conflict with their servants and other family members. The film secured her place as one of the most important and influential voices in New Argentine Cinema and across the world. She’s been dubbed “one of the greatest directors in the world right now” by Vogue in 2018 following the release of her latest film Zama, which was recently chosen, along with La Ciénaga, as the 1st and 19th greatest films in Argentine cinema.
Patricia Cardoso is a Colombian American filmmaker and anthropologist best known for her debut feature film Real Woman Have Curves starring America Ferrera and George Lopez, which has since become a classic and a permanent selection by the Library of Congress in the National Film Registry. She has since directed for TV including Netflix’s The Society, Disney+’s Diary of a Future President, and Amazon’s Shelter, which will be available to stream later this year. She is the first Latinx female director to have a film in the National Film Registry and the first to receive a Student Academy Award, breaking new ground for aspiring Latina directors everywhere.
Cecilia Aldarondo is an Afro-Puerto Rican director and producer known for her documentary works that center her home country and touch on themes of family, sexuality, bigotry, religion, and memory including Memories of a Penitent Heart and Picket Line. Her most recent film Landfall is a moving, powerful work about Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, diving deep into the political and economic crises that affected the island and its people. In 2015, she was named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by FIlmmaker Magazine. Her next documentary project is You Were My First Boyfriend, which revisits her ’90s adolescence in high school and will be released sometime this year.
Aurora Guerrero is a Mexican American director and writer best known for her feature film debut Mosquita y Mari, which follows two Chicana teen girls in Huntington Park, California exploring their sexuality, identity, and hopes for the future after as their friendship develops. Following the film’s release, she became the first Chicana filmmaker to make a feature film debut as a former Sundance Institute and Ford Foundation Fellow. “[I] wanted to stay true to [my] own coming of age experience of exploring [my] identity…These early years are markers of who you will become later on. That is very true of my life and I feel like my friendships, and that friendship in particular that inspired this movie, was the beginnings of my queer identity,” she previously said. In all of her work, which includes two short films and multiple TV episodes, she focuses on themes of class, queer sexuality, race, and feminism in the context of the Latina and Chicana experience. She also advocates for opening up more opportunities for young Latinas to enter the industry and incorporating activism and social justice issues in their art.
Janicza Bravo is a Panamanian American director, screenwriter, and producer who has made more than 11 short films, featurettes, and feature films including her debut short Eat. In 2017, she released her debut feature film Lemon (which she also co-wrote) starring Brett Gelman and Judy Greer, which follows a middle-aged actor navigating his complicated family and failing relationship. She has also directed multiple episodes for TV including shows like FX’s Atlanta and Netflix’s Love. Her most recent feature film, which she co-wrote, is Zola, following a waitress who takes a trip to Florida with a sex worker that was based on a viral tweet thread making it the first film of its kind. Her work frequently explores disability, race, grief, loss, politics, and police relations, and has made her one of the most influential and sought-after directors today.
Natalie Rodriguez is a director and screenwriter whose projects focus on mental health, violence, and trauma. Her directorial feature debut was The Extraordinary Ordinary, which follows a college freshman who moves to work on her mental health and move on from a traumatic incident in high school. The film won ‘Best Film About Women’s Empowerment’ at the Glendale International Film Festival. She followed that up with Howard Original, about a screenwriter whose pet cat comes back to life. She later founded her own production company, Extraordinary Pictures, to produce media and entertainment focusing on diversity, mental health, and recovery in films, TV, and other projects.
Naima Ramos-Chapman is a Black Puerto Rican director, writer, producer, and actor whose work focuses on gender-based violence and is based on real-life experiences. Since 2016, Chapman has written, starred in, and directed two short films: And Nothing Happened, focusing on a woman who is sexually assaulted and tries to leave her apartment, and Piu Piu, which explores the trauma of being stalked in public. “It is not only a thing one person survives–sexual assault is something a whole family, community, nation survives and until we understand that we cannot truly confront it,” Chapman previously said. The director has also broken ground in TV like in HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness as a writer, director, actor, editor, and producer.
Gigi Saul Guerrero
Gigi Saul Guerrero, otherwise known as “La Muñeca Del Terror”, is a Mexican director and actress known for her horror web series La Quinceañera. In TV, she has done directorial work for shows like The Purge, Into the Dark, and Super Monsters and done voice work for Peacock’s Supernatural Academy. She made her directorial short film debut with Dead Crossing, which follows zombie guards at the U.S.-Mexico border who eat Mexicans crossing into the U.S. Since then, she has since directed many horror projects like the film adaptation of El Gigante, based on the novel of the same name by Shane McKenzie, and multiple short films, all focusing on psychological horror, grief, womanhood, and immigration. Her next project will be a biopic about the life and career of Mexican banda singer Jenni Rivera, tentatively titled Jenni, which will star Annie Gonzalez in the title role. “It’s women like Jenni that inspire young Latinas to work hard and dream big…Dios me hizo mujer mi madre una dama la gente me hizo cabrona,” she previously told HipLatina.
Michelle Garza Cervera
Michelle Garza Cervera is a Mexican director and screenwriter best known for her feature film directorial debut and most recent project Huersera: The Bone Woman, which follows a young woman who is haunted by a supernatural entity after she becomes pregnant. It has won over 30 awards and nominations from international film festivals including Best New Narrative Director Tribeca Festival award. She has also made multiple short films, which have garnered similar critical acclaim and praise including Clara’s Rage, which follows a woman who is forced to stay inside with her mother and husband in their cabin for 40 days after being bitten by a rabid dog. In all her work, she focuses on womanhood, motherhood, female rage, violence, haunting, spirituality, and power.