MoMA Announces Retrospective on Prominent Filmmaker Lourdes Portillo

The Museum of Modern Art has announced the retrospective film series “Lourdes Portillo: La Cineasta Inquisitiva”, to take place June 22 – 30 in New York City with the presence of the filmmaker at select screenings. For over 30 years, Portillo’s award-wining films have explored Latin American, Mexican, and Chicano experiences and social-justice issues.

In her signature hybrid style, she has produced and directed over a dozen works as a visual artist, investigative journalist, and activist. Born in Chihuahua, Mexico and raised in Los Angeles, Portillo studied at the San Francisco Art Institute in the 1970s and 1980s, where she was immersed in Chicano and avant-garde cinema, social-issue documentary film, and feminist and Latin American politics.

The retrospective series will feature Portillo's most representative work such as After the Earthquake, her first film, made with Nina Serrano in 1979, a short about the experiences of a young Nicaraguan woman immigrant to the United States; Las Madres: The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (1985), an Academy Award–nominated documentary about the courageous Argentinean mothers’ movement that spoke out for that country's desaparecidos; and Señorita Extraviada (2001) which brought to light the brutal cases of the hundreds of kidnapped, raped and murdered young women of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

The Houston Chronicle calls Portillo, “one of the most important filmmakers chronicling the Latino experience today,” while Variety refers to her work as “powerful…gripping…and passionate.” Her films have been widely influential for younger generations of filmmakers, particularly Latina women interested in the expression of their culture. In addition to her Academy Award® nomination, her films have also been awarded the Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize; International Documentary Association’s Distinguished Documentary Award; The Nestor Almendros Human Rights Prize; San Francisco Film Festival Golden Spire Award; and Films de Femmes, Creteil, Audience Award/Women’s Journalists’ Award.

Lourdes Portillo will be in attendance for the opening four days of the retrospective, including on Friday, June 22, for the New York premiere of Al Más Allá. She will also participate in a discussion with filmmaker and Sundance award-winner Natalia Almada after the screening of The Devil Never Sleeps on Saturday, June 23. “Lourdes Portillo: La Cineasta Inquisitiva” is presented on the occasion of the 58th Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, and in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of Women Make Movies, the nation's largest distributor of films by women and about women.

Pictures: Stills from Columbus on Trial (1992) and Corpus: A Home Movie for Selena (1999). Images courtesy Women Make Movies.