Ten Contemporary Female Mexican Directors
In the Statistical Yearbook of Mexican Cinema 2014, which is published by IMCINE, there is an encouraging statistic: the participation of women directors nationally has grown in recent years. Whereas in 2007 women directed just 10% of annual productions, in 2014 this figure reached 20%. While these numbers are still far from ideal, it would seem that the participation of women in Mexican cinema is on the right track.
As a way to celebrate female voices in our national cinema, we offer a run-down of ten Mexican female directors, all of whom have made exceptional feature films and have participated in the Official Selection at FICM:
Natalia Beristain: (Mexico City, Mexico, 1981) She studied at the Cenro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC). She has screened her work at FICM three times: at the 5th edition in 2006 she won the prize for Best Short Film for Peces plátano / Banana Fish; at the 7th edition of the festival in 2009 she competed with her short film Pentimento; and in 2012 her debut feature film No quiero dormir sola / She Doesn’t Want to Sleep Alone won the prize for Best Feature Film at the 10th edition of the festival. She Doesn’t Want to Sleep Alone also screened at a number of other international festivals, including the Cairo International Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival, the Muestra Internacional de Cine in Sao Paulo, the Stockholm Film Festival, Gijón Film Festival, the Festival of Cinema and Music in Kustendorf. The film won the Yellow Robin Award at the Curaçao IFFR, among other prizes.
Elisa Miller: (Mexico City, Mexico, 1982) She studied at the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC). She won the Palme d’Or for Best Short Film at the 60th Cannes Film Festival for her short Ver llover / Watching it Rain in 2006. The film also picked up the Best Short Film award at the 4th edition of FICM, and the same prize at the Ariel Awards that year. Her short film Roma (2008) won the Studio 5 de Mayo Special Prize at the 6th edition of FICM, Best Short Film at the International Youth Film Festival (IMAGO) in Portugal, and Best Director in the student section at the Pune International Film Festival in India. Her first feature film Vete más lejos, Alicia (2010) participated in the 8th edition of FICM, and received its international premiere at the Rotterdam International Film Festival (IFFR).
Mariana Chenillo: (Mexico City, Mexico, 1977) She studied at the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC), where she was also professor in Assistant Directing, Script Advising and Directing. She currently teaches the Script-Writing Program at the SAE Institute México. Her work has been screened at numerous film festivals around the world and has received over 20 prizes nationally and internationally. She has participated in five editions of FICM. In the festival’s first edition she competed with her short documentary En pocas palabras / In a Few Words (2002) and in the second with her fiction short Mar Adentro / The Sea Inside (2003). In 2008 her debut feature film Cinco días sin Nora / Nora’s Will won the Audience Award at the 6th edition of FICM, as well as the Award for Best Director at the Moscow International Film Festival, Best Film at the Biarritz Festival of Latin American Cinema, and seven Ariel Awards. She made the short film La tienda de raya as part of the collective feature film Revolution in 2010, which screened at the 8th FICM and had its premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) that year. Her second feature film Paraíso / Paradise (2013) was part of the Official Selection at the 11th FICM and the New Directors section at the San Sebastián International Film Festival.
Claudia Saint-Luce: (Veracruz, Mexico, 1982) She graduated from the Audiovisual Arts program of the Guadalajara University. With her short film Muerte anunciada / Death Announced she won the Audience Award and the Ralley Malayerba at the Guanajuato Short Film Festival. The script for her first feature film, Los insólitos peces gato / The Amazing Cat Fish won the 17th Bertha Navarro Script Laboratory in 2011. The Amazing Cat Fish (2013) was part of the Official Selection at the 12th edition of FICM, and participated in a number of international film festivals, including the Toronto International Film Festival, the San Francisco International Film Festival and the Locarno International Film Festival, where it received the Young Jury Prize for Best Film.
Yulene Olaizola (Mexico City, Mexico, 1983): She studied at the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC). Her work has screened at numerous festivals around the world, including three editions of FICM. She participated in the 6th edition of the festival with her debut documentary Intimidades de Shakespeare y Victor Hugo / Shakespeare and Victor Hugo’s Intimacies (2008). Among other prizes the film won Best Film and the Audience Award at the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema (BAFICI) in Argentina; a Special Jury Mention and the Audience Award at the Punto de Vista International Documentary Film Festival in Spain; the Critics Award at the Fribourg International Film Festival (FIFF) in Switzerland; Best Documentary at the Lima Film Festival in Peru; and the Ariel Award for Best First Feature. She competed in the 9th edition of FICM with her second feature film Paraísos artificiales / Artificial Paradises (2011). Her third feautre film Fogo (2012) was part of the Official Selection at the 10th FICM and the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival.
Kenya Márquez: (Guadalajara, Mexico, 1972) She studied Communication at the Universidad del Valle de Atemajac (UNIVA) and gained a diploma in screenwriting at the CCC. Her short film Cruz (1998) was part of the 9th FICM’s Homage to Damián Alcázar. That same year, she won a Special Mention and the Audience Award for her feature film debut Fecha de caducidad / Expiration Date (2011). The film travelled to more than 40 festivals worldwide and won numerous awards, including: Best Director at the Huelva Ibero-American Film Festival; the Special Jury Prize at the Encuentro de Cine Sudamericano in Marseille; the Manicuripe Prize for Best Sound at the Iberoamerican Film Festival in Brazil; and prizes for Best Photography, Best Script and Best First Film at the Latin American Film Festival in Flanders, Brussels.
Lucía Carreras: (Mexico City, Mexico, 1973) She studied Communication at the Jesuit University of Guadalajara, Western Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESO), and has a Masters in Screenwriting from the Intercontinental University (UIC) in Mexico City. She participated in more than ten international festivals with her debut feature film Nos vemos, papá (2011), including: the 9th edition of FICM; the Huelva Ibero-American Film Festival; the Kerala International Film Festival (IFFK), the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF) and the Haifa International Film Festival. The film gained the Special Jury Prize for Best Actress for Cecilia Suárez at the Cine Las Americas International Film Festival. Lucía Carreras was nominated for the Ariel Award for Best Original Script for Michel Rowe’s Año Bisiesto (2010), which screened at the 8th FICM, and she won that prize for her work on Diego Quemada-Diez’ La jaula de oro / The Golden Dream (2013), which also won Best First or Second Feature Film, the Audience Award and the Press Prize at the 11th edition of FICM.
Victoria Franco: (Mexico City, Mexico, 1983) She studied Film and Television at the Centro School of Design, Film and Television in Mexico City. She competed at the 11th edition of the Morelia International Film Festival with her debut feature film A los ojos / Through the Eyes (2013), which she co-directed with her brother Michel Franco. Her short film Reconciliados (2014) was part of the Official Selection at the 12th FICM. The film also screened at the 8th Foro Cinema Global, and the 30th Festival Centro Histórico, in Mexico City.
Andrea Martínez Crowther: She studied Communication at the UAM Xochimilco, and was awarded a Fullbright Scholarship to study her Masters in Los Angeles in 1997. She participated in screenwriting workshops at the Sundance Film Festival with her debut feature film Cosas insignificantes / Insignificant Things (2008), whose script won the Hartley Merryll Screenwriting Prize, awarded by the Motion Picture Association of America. Insignificant Things was part of the Official Selection at the 6th FICM and won the Audience Award at the Biarritz Festival Latin America. Her feature film project Ciclo (2013) won a Special Mention at Morelia LAB in 2008.
Paula Markovitch: (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1968) Now a Mexican citizen. She studied Film and Television at the Cordoba National University in Argentina. She taught a course on Dramaturgy for Minimalist Cinema and Screenwriting at the CCC. She was screenwriter for the Mexican films Sin remitente (1995), directed by Carlos Carrera, Temporada de patos (2004) and Lake Tahoe (2008), both directed by Fernando Eimbcke. Her debut feature film El premio (2011) won the Award for Best Mexican Feature at the 9th edition of FICM, as well as participating in a number of international film festivals, including the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale), the Havana International Festival of Latin American Cinema, the Biarritz Festival of Latin American Cinema and the Lima Film Festival, among many others.
This list is not a complete list of female directors of documentaries and short film. It also does not include all of the women who have presented their work in the Mexican Feature Film Section at FICM, nor does it include all those who are making cinema in Mexico currently. Our intention is not to create a definitive record, but more to offer some examples of the talented women currently working in Mexico.
Much of the information present in this article was taken from FICM’s Mexican Filmmakers Directory, which you can see here: directoriorealizadoresficm.com