Aurora Guerrero

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Aurora Guerrero
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
California Institute of the Arts
Occupationfilm director

Aurora Guerrero is a queer-identified, Chicana writer-director from California.[1] Described as activist first and filmmaker second, Guerrero focuses on collaborative work with her communities creating art forms that offer opportunities for dialogue and education.

Early life[edit]

Guerrero was born in the Mission District of San Francisco, California to Mexican immigrant parents, later growing up on the border of Richmond and El Cerritos cities, while working at her parents small Mexican restaurant in Berkeley. Guerrero studied both Psychology and Chicano studies at University of California, Berkeley completing a Bachelor of Arts. She later moved to Los Angeles to study directing at California Institute of the Arts in Santa Clarita, California earning a Master of Fine Arts.[2] Her narrative work often examines the intersection of the working class, queer, and of color.[3]


Early in her career, she co-founded Womyn Image Makers (WIM) along with Dalila Mendez, Maritza Alvarez and Claudia Mercado. As WIM, in 2005, she directed the short film Pura Lengua, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. Her second short film, Viernes Girl, won the 2005 HBO/New York International Latino Film Festival short film competition.[4] Both films caught the attention of film institutions such as Sundance, Tribeca, and Film Independent.[3] Guerrero also went on to assist director Patricia Cardoso on her debut feature Real Women Have Curves, which won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award in 2002. In 2005 Guerrero was selected as a Sundance Institute Ford Foundation film fellow. While there, she participated in the Native Indigenous Lab with her script for Mosquita y Mari.[5]

In 2012, Guerrero made her feature film debut at the Sundance Film Festival with Mosquita y Mari, becoming the first Chicana filmmaker to debut a feature-length film who was also previously a Sundance Institute and Ford Foundation Fellow.[6] Mosquita y Mari has since traveled over 100 film festivals including San Francisco International, Melbourne,[7] Guadalajara, Sao Paulo, and has garnered multiple awards including Best First Feature at Outfest and Best U.S. Latino FIlm at NY's Cinema Tropical while picking up Spirit Award and GLAAD nominations for Best First Feature Under 500k and the Piaget's Producer's Award.[3] The film tells the coming-of-age story of two teen Chicanas in Huntington Park, California who form a relationship ignited by sexual attraction.[8] Guerrero describes an attraction to speaking about “actual violence within silence,” taboo subjects that are not easily spoken about between parents and children.[9] Guerrero also hoped that LGBT Latino audiences would see themselves validated by the film—much as Guerrero herself felt when, as an undergraduate student, she encountered the work of feminist Chicana writers Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga.[10]

In an interview in 2012 at the Torino LGBTQI Film Festival, Guerrero stated that she felt connected to the story in Mosquita y Mari because she “wanted to stay true to her own coming of age experience of exploring her identity. I feel at that age you’re a little more open to life and the people around you end up impacting you because of your openness. 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.” [11]

In 2014, Guerrero announced her next project, Los Valientes, about a young undocumented gay Latino man living in the U.S.[12] Los Valientes, slated to be Guerrero's second feature, has been awarded two grants by SFF/KRF, a 2014 Sundance Feature Film Development Grant and a 2013 Tribeca Narrative Grant, and was selected to participate in IFP's No Borders Market in 2014.[3]

Most of Guerrero’s film work has been centered around California, especially the San Francisco Bay Area where she grew up. Her first work not centered in California was the episode of Queen Sugar she directed, centered in Louisiana.[13]

In 2017, Guerrero directed the Ava DuVernay produced Queen Sugar episode "What Do I Care for Morning" which aired as episode three in season two. DuVernay chose Guerrero for the directorial position because of her work Mosquita y Mari. Based off this film, DuVernay felt confident enough that Guerrero could focus on the power of intimacy, especially for Queen Sugar, a show that focuses so much on family, betrayal and injustice. Prior to directing episode three of season two of Queen Sugar, Guerrero had no idea what episode or what she was going to be directing specifically. Exploring the flirtation, tension, and budding romance of this episode is one of her strengths, and it was a perfect directorial fit for her.[13]

DuVernay later recommended Guerrero to Lin-Manuel Miranda to direct the music video for Andra Day's cover of "Burn" from The Hamilton Mixtape.[14]


In a blog post that she wrote on the Sundance Institute website on April 28, 2011[15] Guerrero writes, "My first inspirations were writers. Women of color feminist writers like Audre Lorde, Cherrie Moraga, Gloria Anzaldúa, Chrystos, June Jordan, and Angela Davis. When I discovered their brave works as a freshman in college, a fierce creative seed was planted in me. It was a calling I had the moment I was stripped naked by their words." Fittingly, her work showcases the experiences of Chicanas that often echo her own experiences.

In an interview with El Tecolote on April 26, 2012 Guerrero stressed the importance of “opening doors to Latinos, especially women and youth, behind the camera in order to help build a community of Latina/o artists,” something she didn’t have when she was a girl.[16] She also stresses the importance of activity in politics and cultural activism.[3]

Awards and Nominations[edit]

Viernes Girl, HBO/New York International Latino Film Festival (NYILFF) short script competition (2005)
Mosquita y Mari, John Cassavetes Spirit Award Nomination, (2013)

Mosquita y Mari, John Cassavetes Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay, (2013)
Mosquita y Mari, Best First Narrative Feature, Outfest (2012)
Mosquita y Mari, Best Narrative Feature, Festival Las Americas, Chicago (2012)
Mosquita y Mari, Best Narrative Feature, Cinefestival (2012)
Mosquita y Mari, Best Screenplay, Santa Fe Independent Film Festival (2012)
Mosquita y Mari, Queer Award, Torino International LGBT Film Festival (2012)
Mosquita y Mari, Audience Award, Pink Film Festival Zurich (2012)
Best Director, awarded to Aurora Guerrero, Long Beach QFilm Festival (2012)
Global Can Award, awarded to Aurora Guerrero, William & Mary Film Festival (2012)

Time Warner/Sundance Storytelling Fellow (2012)


2018 Los Valientes Director & Writer
2018 Greenleaf (TV series) Director
2018 Andra Day: Burn (short) Writer/Director
2018 Caracol Cruzando (short) Story Editor
2017 Queen Sugar (TV series) Director
2013 The 2013 Film Independent Spirit Awards Herself
2012 Mosquita y Mari Director & Writer
2009 La Mission Assistant to Director
2008 Pandora’s (short) Director, Writer & Co-Producer
2008 El Primo (short) Special Thanks
2005 Viernes Girl (short) Director & Writer
2005 Pura Lengua (short) Director
2002 Real Women Have Curves Assistant to Ms. Cardoso
2002 sIDney (short) Special Thanks

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fuchs, Ellise. "Most of Us Don't Need to Put Labels on It: An Interview with Aurora Guerrero". PopMatters. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
  2. ^ "25 New Faces of Independent Film 2006". Filmmaker Magazine. 2006. Archived from the original on 2012-03-29. Retrieved 2012-01-15.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Aurora Guerrero Bio". Conscious Films. 2014. Retrieved 2018-11-11.
  4. ^ "HBO and the New York International Latino Film Festival Announce Winner of Latino Filmmaker Competition". 2005. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  5. ^ "Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers #42: Aurora Guerrero, 'Mosquita y Mari'". Indie Wire. 2012-01-15. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  6. ^ "Unprecedented Showing by CalArts Graduates at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival". CalArts. 2011-12-15. Archived from the original on 2013-03-15. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  7. ^ Scott, Michael (21 March 2013). "MQFF REVIEW: Mosquita y Mari (2012, Dir. Aurora Guerrero)". Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  8. ^ "Film Preview: "Mosquita y Mari" by Aurora Guerrero". xQsi Magazine. 2011-05-20. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
  9. ^ Lerner, Gabriel (2011). "'Mosquita y Mari' is about us". Retrieved 2012-05-13.
  10. ^ Agrawal, Nina (Summer 2012). "Arts Innovator: Aurora Guerrero, U.S./Mexico". Americas Quarterly. Retrieved 2018-11-11.
  11. ^ "Tglff2012: Aurora Guerrero". YouTube. April 22, 2012. Retrieved 2018-11-12.
  12. ^ Lavallee, Eric (July 23, 2014). "2014 Independent Film Week Includes Latest From Barry Jenkins, Alistair Banks Griffin, Passon, Frammartino & Landes". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  13. ^ a b Mejia, Paula (2017). "Ava DuVernay Only Wanted Female Directors for 'Queen Sugar,' Aurora Guerrero Stepped Up". Remezcla. Retrieved 2018-11-11.
  14. ^ Holub, Christian (August 29, 2018). "Andra Day's 'Burn' music video gives Hamilton ballad a contemporary twist". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  15. ^ "Kick It: Aurora Guerrero Finds Strength in Relationships". Sundance Institute Blog. 2011-08-28. Archived from the original on 2011-05-11. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
  16. ^ "Local Latina filmmaker tells community stories". El 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2012-05-13.

Further reading[edit]

  • Agrawal, Nina. “Arts Innovator: Aurora Guerrero, U.S./Mexico.” Americas Quarterly. Retrieved 2018-11-11.
  • Conscious Films. “Aurora Guerrero Bio.” Wixsite. Retrieved 2018-11-11.
  • Guerrero, Aurora. “Tglff2012: Aurora Guerrero.” Youtube. Retrieved 2018-11-12.
  • Mejia, Paula. “Ava DuVernay Only Wanted Female Directors for ‘Queen Sugar,’ Aurora Guerrero Stepped Up.” Remezcla. Retrieved 2018-11-11.

External links[edit]