Influential Latin Filmmakers To Know

Cristina Gallego
Photo via Deadline

A list of Latin filmmakers who are helping Hollywood share more interesting and diverse stories

This is a short list of notable Latin filmmakers currently in the industry. As the Hispanic filmmaking community continues to grow, our hope is to keep adding to this list of notable Latin filmmakers. By no means is this an exhaustive attempt at showcasing all of the talented filmmakers that represent the Latin community in entertainment. We want to recognize those filmmakers who are paving the way for others to feel confident in their own abilities to make movies about their life’s story and reshape the cinematic experience.

Alfonso Cuarón

Photo via Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Born in Mexico City, Alfonso Cuarón is a film director, producer, screenwriter, cinematographer and editor. He started out his film career as a cinematographer on television shows in Mexico. Throughout Alfonso Cuarón’s filmmaking career, he has been nominated for an Academy Award in six different categories and has personally won five Oscars. In 2018, Cuarón’s film Roma splashed onto the streaming scene with its Netflix debut. Cuarón shot the film in black-and-white, large-format digital and used subtitles to immerse American audiences into 1970s Mexico City. Cuarón won three Oscars for Roma including Best Director and Best Cinematographer.

Alejandro González Iñárritu

Photo via Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Alejandro González Iñárritu is another influential Mexican-born filmmaker, who is best known for directing Babel (2006) Birdman (2014) and The Revenant (2015). Iñárritu got his start in radio broadcast in Mexico and transitioned into a producer for Televisa, a major Latin American mass media corporation. He later founded a production company called Z films before directing his debut Mexican film, Amores Perros (2000). Iñárritu is one of only three directors to ever win an Oscar for Best Director back-to-back. After taking a brief hiatus since The Revenant, Iñárritu is in production for a new film called Limbo, which he wrote the screenplay.

Ali Waddington

Ali Waddington
Photo via Ali Waddington on Twitter

Spanish filmmaker Ali Waddington made her feature directorial debut in 2019 with her film Paradise Hills starring Emma Roberts. Waddington visited The L.A. Film School to screen her film and speak with students about her experience making Paradise Hills as a first-time director. Her journey into filmmaking began with advertising and photography at the University of the Basque Country. In 2014, Waddington took a year off from working at an ad agency to write and direct a short, 11-minute movie called Disc Inferno (2015). That kickstarted her desire to continue making films specifically in the sci-fi fantasy genre focused on themes of female empowerment and social activism. As a queer woman, Waddington is a proactive advocate for progressive social change within the arts and minority groups.

Miguel Arteta

Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images

Miguel Arteta is a Puerto Rican filmmaker who is most known for his independent dark-comedy film Chuck & Buck (2000). Arteta went to high school in Costa Rica and moved to the United States to attend college at Harvard and eventually graduated from Wesleyan University. He started working as a second assistant camera and from there started directing his own independent films. Arteta has immersed himself in the American filmmaking scene by directing movies including Yes Day starring Jennifer Garner and Like a Boss with Tiffany Haddish. He has also directed episodes of popular TV shows including American Horror Story, Nurse Jackie and New Girl. Over the years, Arteta has been nominated for 19 independent awards and film festivals.

Fernando Meirelles

Photo via the L.A. Times (Magnolia Pictures)

It’s hard not to mention influential Latin filmmakers without talking about Fernando Meirelles. This Brazillian filmmaker made a name for himself after turning the best-selling book Cidade de Deus (City of God) into a movie. It was a huge undertaking for Meirelles as the storyline involved more than 350 characters and he assembled a cast of inexperienced actors for the film. Meirelles worked with fellow Brazillian filmmakers Bráulio Mantovani, who wrote the screenplay for City of God, and Kátia Lund, who co-directed the film with Meirelles. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay). Meirelles also directed The Constant Gardener (2005) and The Two Popes (2019), which was a Netflix original.

Cristina Gallego

Cristina Gallego
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Christina Gallego is a Colombian producer and director, known for Birds of Passage (2018), Embrace of the Serpent (2015) and Sister of Mine (2017). Gallego spent 10 years researching her latest film Birds of Passage. The film follows the Wayuu family as they fall into the drug trade in Colombia during the 1970s. Birds of Passage has received critical acclaim and was selected as the Colombian entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards.