Maria Novaro

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Maria Novaro (born Maria Luisa Novaro Peñloza, September 11, 1951 in Mexico City)[1] is a Mexican film director. She was amongst the first generation of female filmmakers to graduate from a Mexican film school.[2] She has made five feature films and fourteen short films. Within the Mexican film industry, she has been a cinematographer, sound mixer, director, screenwriter and editor. Today, Novaro is one of the best known Mexican filmmakers to come out of the New Mexican Cinema and her films express Millian’s idea of cinema in feminine.[3]

Education[edit]

Maria Novaro studied sociology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, UNAM.[4] After gaining some interest in filmmaking she decided to study film at the Centro Universitario de Estudios Cenmatograficos based in UNAM.[5] In 1981, while at the Centro Universitario de Estudios Cenmatograficos, she made her first short films Lavaderos, Sobre las Olas and De Encaje y Azúcar all on a super 8 camera.[6] Later that year she joined Colectivo Cine-Mujer which was a women’s film collective interested in women’s stories and creating opportunities for women in the Mexican film industry.[7] It is in the collective that Novaro directed Es la Premira Vez in 1981.[8]

Career[edit]

Maria Novaro started her career in the Mexican film industry as a cinematographer and sound mixer.[9] It was only after she worked as an assistant director for the Alberto Cortés film Amor a la Vuelta de la Esquina (1985) that she decide to make her short film Una Isla Rodeada de Agua (1985). This short was a feminist adaptation of the famous Mexican novel Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo.[10] In this short film a young girl goes on a journey to the Guerrero coast in search for a mother that abandoned her. The theme of a female protagonist on a journey through contemporary Mexico in search for something or someone is established in this short film and is carried out throughout her films.[11]

Her next short Azul Celeste (1987) told the story of a pregnant women looking for her baby’s father in Mexico City. This story carried over into her first feature film Lola (1989) which she co-wrote with her sister Beatriz.[12] Lola, named after the protagonist, tells the story of a woman that has been abandoned by her daughters father. She is confronted with isolation and hopelessness in vast Mexico City as she tries to relocate her daughter’s father. Many feminist criticizes the passive Lola character and the way in which she cannot overcome her abandonment.[13] However Novaro has said that she refuses to be limited by taking a political stance and does not consider her work to be feminist.[14] In an interview with Isabel Arredondo, Novaro has said that with Lola, she was not only interested in the story of Lola and her child but the film was a way to “reflect profoundly on women, motherhood and Mexico City”.[15] Therefore, Lola being controlled by her emotions makes her an accurate depiction of a woman going through abandonment.

As she was finishing the editing of Lola she decided to write a much lighter story and in collaboration with her sister wrote Danzón (1991).[16] She decided to play with the traditional melodrama genre, that is very popular amongst Mexican women, by adding humor to the movie.[17] In Danzón she portrays the traditional Mexican dance hall culture which has strict gender codes and procedures and contrasts it to the port-town of Veracruz. The film follows Julia Solorzono (María Rojo), a single mother whose only escape is in the popular dance halls of Mexico City. When her usual partner Carmelo (Daniel Regis) does not show up for their dance meetings she decides to leave her kids behind and go look for him in Veracruz where he is from. It is a journey of self-discovery for Julia as she abandons the search for Carmelo and enjoys the Veracruz life before going back to life in Mexico City.[18] Danzón was the film that established her career and gained her international attention.[19]

Her next two features, El Jardín del Edén (1994) and Sin Dejar Huella (2000) focus on the idea of borderlands while still sticking to her theme of females on a journey through Mexico. It is through her narrative that she explores new ways of seeing Mexico that depart from stereotypical representations of the border lands and its inhabitants.[20] Her most recent film Las Buenas Hierba was released in 2010 and won the Grand Coral Third Prize at the Havana Film Festival that same year.

Legacy[edit]

Novaro has said that the work of Andrei Tarkovsky, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Theodoros Angelopoulos inspired her narrative style particularly the way she sees her film story as poetry and not dramaturgy.[21] She has also mentioned that the most important thing to consider as a director is to be able to hear your own voice within your film. She cites Ingmar Bergman in an interview saying “that when a director no longer hears his internal voice he’s lost”.[22] While Novaro does not see herself as a feminist her “subjects have a conscience of gender and act in accordance”.[23] The recurrence of themes such as motherhood, female friendship and absent males provides an establishment of the protagonist turning to her fellow women for help and guidance.

Award and Nominations[edit]

Film Awards Nominations
Lola (1989) Silver Ariel for Best Original Story
Danzón (1991) Premio ACE for Best Director
El Jardín del Edén (1994) Grand Coral Second Prize at the Havana Film Festival Silver Ariels for Best Direction and Best Original Story
Sin Dejar Huella (2000) Latin American Cinema Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001
Las Buenas Hierbas (2010) Grand Coral Third Prize at the Havana Film Festival
Una Isla Rodeada de Agua (1985) Silver Ariel for Best Short Fiction Film
Azul Celeste (1988) Golden Danzante award at the Huesca Film Festival

Filmography[edit]

Feature Films

Year English Title Spanish Title
2010 The Good Herbs Las Buenas Hierbas
2000 Without a Trace Sin Dejar Huella
1994 The Garden of Eden El Jardín del Edén
1991 Danzón Danzón
1989 Lola Lola

Short Films

Year English Title Spanish Title
2006 Traducción Simultánea Traducción Simultánea
2006 La Morena La Morena
1993 Of Autumn Otoñal
1988 Light Blue Azul Celeste
1985 Perverted Pervertida
1985 An Island Surrounded by Water Una Isla Rodeada de Agua
1983 Dear Carmen Querida Carmen
1982 7 a.m 7 a.m
1982 With Me You’ll Have a Good Time Conmigo la Pasarás Muy Bien
1981 It’s the First Time Es la Permiera Vez
1981 Sugar and Lace De Encaje y Azúcar
1981 Above the Waves Sobre las Olas
1981 The Washers Lavaderos
1998 “Entangled Shadows” episode of When We Began to Speak “Edredando Sombras” Cuando Comencamos a Hablar

Further reading[edit]

  • Arredondo, Isabel. 2002. "María Novaro on the Making of Lola and Danzón." Women's Studies Quarterly 30, no. 1/2: 196.Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed May 1, 2012).
  • Martinez-Zalce, Graciela. 2010. "The Country Within: María Novaro's Border Films." Journal Of Borderlands Studies 25, no. 3/4: 104-119. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed May 5, 2012).
  • Ramanathan, Geetha. Feminist Auteurs: Reading Women’s Films. London: Wallflower Press, 2006. ISBN 190476469X
  • Rashkin, Elissa J. Women Filmmakers in Mexico: The Country of Which We Dream. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001. ISBN 0292771096

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sutherland, Romy. "Senses of Cinema: Maria Novaro". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  2. ^ Martinez-Zalce, Graciela (2010). "The Country Within: Maria Novaro's Border Films". Journal of Borderlands Studies. 25 (3/4): 104–119. 
  3. ^ Martinez-Zalce, Graciela (2010). "The Country Within: Maria Novaro's Border Films". Journal of Borderlands Studies. 25 (3/4): 104–119. 
  4. ^ "Directores del Cine Mexicano". Retrieved April 27, 2012. 
  5. ^ Sutherland, Romy. "Senses of Cinema: Maria Novaro". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Movies And Television: Maria Novaro". The New York Times. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  7. ^ Sutherland, Romy. "Senses of Cinema: Maria Novaro". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Movies And Television: Maria Novaro". The New York Times. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  9. ^ Sutherland, Romy. "Senses of Cinema: Maria Novaro". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  10. ^ Sutherland, Romy. "Senses of Cinema: Maria Novaro". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  11. ^ Sutherland, Romy. "Senses of Cinema: Maria Novaro". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  12. ^ Sutherland, Romy. "Senses of Cinema: Maria Novaro". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  13. ^ Arredondo, Isabel (Spring–Summer 2002). "Maria Novaro on the Making of Lola and Danzon". Women's Studies Quarterly. 30 (1/2): 196–213. 
  14. ^ Martinez-Zalce, Graciela (2010). "The Country Within: Maria Novaro's Border Films". Journal of Borderlands Studies. 25 (3/4): 104–119. 
  15. ^ Arredondo, Isabel (Spring–Summer 2002). "Maria Novaro on the Making of Lola and Danzon". Women's Studies Quarterly. 30 (1/2): 196–213. 
  16. ^ Arredondo, Isabel (Spring–Summer 2002). "Maria Novaro on the Making of Lola and Danzon". Women's Studies Quarterly. 30 (1/2): 196–213. 
  17. ^ Arredondo, Isabel (Spring–Summer 2002). "Maria Novaro on the Making of Lola and Danzon". Women's Studies Quarterly. 30 (1/2): 196–213. 
  18. ^ Sutherland, Romy. "Senses of Cinema: Maria Novaro". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  19. ^ Sutherland, Romy. "Senses of Cinema: Maria Novaro". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  20. ^ Martinez-Zalce, Graciela (2010). "The Country Within: Maria Novaro's Border Films". Journal of Borderlands Studies. 25 (3/4): 104–119. 
  21. ^ Arredondo, Isabel (Spring–Summer 2002). "Maria Novaro on the Making of Lola and Danzon". Women's Studies Quarterly. 30 (1/2): 196–213. 
  22. ^ Arredondo, Isabel (Spring–Summer 2002). "Maria Novaro on the Making of Lola and Danzon". Women's Studies Quarterly. 30 (1/2): 196–213. 
  23. ^ Martinez-Zalce, Graciela (2010). "The Country Within: Maria Novaro's Border Films". Journal of Borderlands Studies. 25 (3/4): 104–119.