With today’s Caméra d’Or win at the Cannes Film Festival for Our Mothers / Nuestras madres, Guatemala’s César Díaz became the fifth Latin American director to win the award at the French film festival since the award for best first film was introduced for the first time in 1978.
The first Latin American—and female—filmmaker to win the Caméra d’Or was Venezuelan director Fina Torres for her debut feature Oriana. Set in a hacienda, the film unfolds as a multi-layered mystery-melodrama about a woman who returns from France to the house of her childhood in Venezuela. In the process, she discovers some secrets about the real identity and behavior of her aunt, who had died and left the property to her.
Twenty-five years later, Australian-born director Michael Rowe gave Mexico it’s Caméra d’Or for Leap Year / Año bisiesto. An intense sexual drama, the film follows Laura, whose personal life consists of one affair after another. She meets Arturo and the pair enter into an intense, violent sexual relationship. As days go by, Laura crosses out the days on a calendar, revealing her secret past to her lover.
One year later, Argentine filmmaker Pablo Giorgelli received the accolade for his road movie Las Acacias. The film follows Ruben, a lonely middle-aged trucker who's picking up a load of lumber in Paraguay to take back to Buenos Aires, grudgingly agrees to take two passengers: Jacinta, a young mother and her five-month-old baby, Anahi. At first glance, the 1,500 kilometer journey seems very long, both for Jacinta, who hopes to find work with the help of her cousin in Argentina, as well as for the surly trucker, whose routine is disrupted. But along the way, Ruben, Jacinta and Anahi slowly get to know one another, and the usually quiet Ruben gradually opens up.
In 2015 Colombia’s César Augusto Acevedo won the Caméra d’Or for Land and Shade / La tierra y la sombra. The drama follows Alfonso, an old farmer who has returned home to tend to his son, who is gravely ill. He rediscovers his old house, where the woman who was once his wife still lives, with his daughter-in-law and grandson. The landscape that awaits him resembles a wasteland. Vast sugar cane plantations surround the house, producing perpetual clouds of ash. 17 years after abandoning them, Alfonso tries to fit back in and save his family.
Additionally, American filmmaker Robert Young won the inaugural Caméra d’Or in 1978 for his drama ¡Alambrista! about a Mexican farmworker who sneaks across the border to California to make money to send to his family back home, and Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas received a Special Mention for his debut feature Japón at the 55th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in 2002.