Noel Quiñones

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Noel Quiñones
Noel Quinones.jpg
Born Noel A. Quiñones Motta
(1959-07-20) July 20, 1959 (age 58)
Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
Occupation Screenwriter, film director, film producer, entrepreneur, philanthropist
Years active 1977–present

Noel Quiñones (born Noel A. Quiñones Motta; July 20, 1959) is a Puerto Rican screenwriter, film director, producer, entrepreneur and philanthropist who divides his time between filmmaking and advocating for improvements in public education in countries around the world, such as Brazil, Puerto Rico, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Costa Rica, Argentina, Spain, Mexico and the United States of America. He has received two Emmy Awards for his documentary iflms.

Early life[edit]

Quiñones was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, the son of Santiago Quiñones Elías, a lawyer and Miriam Motta Ferrer, a homemaker. He attended primary school and secondary school in Puerto Rico and, at the age of 18, he left Puerto Rico to study cinematography and film-making at Columbia College and UCLA in Hollywood, California. He graduated at age 21.


Quiñones holding the Emmy he received for his film 17

While still in high school, Quiñones completed his first film, a thirty-minute piece called Seniors, shot entirely on 16mm film and featuring all his classmates. Produced for the school talent show, Seniors sealed Quiñones’s decision to establish himself as a filmmaker. Upon completion of his education in California, Quiñones returned to his native Puerto Rico, and established a production company producing television commercials for large international clients. Profits from his commercial work allowed Quiñones to produce his first feature film, Columbus’ Legacy (original title: Raíces Eternas) on the history and evolution of Puerto Rican culture. Upon its completion in 1985, Columbus’ Legacy, narrated in its English version by Oscar-winning Puerto Rican actor José Ferrer, established Quiñones as one of his island’s most popular directors. In 1986, the film won a Silver Award in the Houston International Film Festival. The Bell and San Juan Story followed in 1989 featuring a variety of well-known artists such as writer/director Jacobo Morales (whose film Lo que le Pasó a Santiago is the only Puerto Rican film nominated for a Best Foreign Movie Oscar), Cordelia González (Born on the Fourth of July, Mambo Kings), Rosana de Soto (Stand and Deliver, La Bamba) and others. These films garnered Quiñones fourteen awards in local and international festivals. In 1994, he collaborated with Tom Musca, writer and producer of Stand and Deliver and the well-known playwright Mark Kemble (Names) to produce Flight of Fancy (2000), winner of Best Film with a Latin theme at the Hollywood International Film Festival and Best Film at The Renaissance City Film Festival in Rhode Island, both in 2001.

Quinõnes’ most recent film work includes the Emmy award winning 17 (original title: Los 17), a documentary about educational transformation in Puerto Rico, winner of Best Short Documentary at the Rincón International Film Festival in Rincón, Puerto Rico in 2012, and 100,000, an Emmy winning documentary about the serious and growing problem of stray dogs in Puerto Rico.

Quiñones is currently involved in pre-production of his next feature film.

Speaking career[edit]

Quinones at TEDxSanJuan

Quiñones has a long history as a motivational speaker advocating for quality in public education. In December 2011, he was one of only eleven speakers invited to the first TEDxSanJuan symposium on ideas worth sharing in Puerto Rico. He spoke about how public education can be transformed by an integrated program to motivate and prepare students for the academic rigors they must address in order to succeed.

Philanthropic activities[edit]

In the aftermath of critical acclaim for Flight of Fancy in the year 2000, the Puerto Rico Department of Education invited him and his wife Soraya Sesto to tour the island’s public schools where his award-winning film would be shown. Instead of simply motivating the students, Quiñones and Sesto were motivated by them. The run-down condition of the classrooms, the anarchy in the hallways and the dearth of technology created the motivation that was to become a principal focus of Quiñones’ philanthropic energy. Unable to simply turn their backs on conditions in the schools they visited, they made a decision to do something about it.

In 2005, after four years of interviewing students, teachers, administrators and parents, Operation Éxito (Operación Éxito) was created to improve the quality of Puerto Rico’s public education system. Specifically, using technology and motivational strategies based in social learning development theory, the program promotes skill development and an inquisitive attitude toward learning science and mathematics, helping students discover opportunities to succeed in these key academic areas. Since its inception, Operation Éxito has evolved from a simple motivational competition to a complex international social transformational strategy with multiple complementary components. The Operation Success community has grown far beyond the coasts of Puerto Rico and is helping to improve academic performance in Spanish-speaking countries across the globe. Recently, Operation Éxito has expanded its reach to the United States of America as well with an English-language program. Quiñones’s philanthropic efforts are also directed at the Sor Isolina Ferré Center and its dedication to the transformation of communities and society in general through education, and the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.


Year Film Awards Notes
1986 Raíces Eternas Silver Award in the Houston International Film Festival (1986)
1989 San Juan Story CINE Golden Eagle Award (Entertainment Category, 1991) Academy Award semi-finalist for Best Live Action Short (1992). Official selection in: Los Angeles International Film Festival, AFI Las Americas Festival, and New York International Film Festival
The Bell CINE Golden Eagle (Entertainment Category, 1991), The World Fest, Houston, The Cindy Award, The American Film and Video Association Award and the Chicago Film Festival Merit Award (1990)
2000 Flight of Fancy Best Latin Movie and Best Children’s Movie in the wood International Film Festival (2001), Best movie in the Renaissance City Film Festival in Rhode Island (2001). featuring Talisa Soto, Dean Cain, Miguel Sandoval and Kristian de la Osa
2010 Los 17 EMMY award (2012) and winner of Best Documentary Short in the Rincón International Film Festival (Rincón PR, 2012)
100,000 EMMY award for best documentary (Suncoast Chapter 2011), Official selection in the Blue Planet Film Festival (Los Angeles, 2010), the DSRL Fest (Vancouver, 2010), the Rincón International Film Festival (Rincón, PR, 2011), the Puerto Rico International Film Festival (Vieques, PR, 2011) and the Aruba International Film Festival (2011).

Personal life[edit]

Although paraplegic from the age of sixteen secondary to a hemorrhage of a tumor in his spinal cord, Quiñones keeps a pace that others find difficult to match. He is married to Soraya Sesto and together the couple has a teenage daughter, Ninoshka Quiñones Sesto, an animal advocate and budding film director. Quiñones is a licensed pilot.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]