Victor Nuñez

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Victor Nunez
Born1945 (age 76–77)
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter, editor, cinematographer, professor

Victor Nunez (born 1945) is a film director, professor at the Florida State University College of Motion Picture, Television and Recording Arts, and a founding member of the Independent Feature Project. He is best known for directing Ulee's Gold, a critically acclaimed movie starring Peter Fonda and Patricia Richardson.[1][2][3][4] Nunez was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2008[5] and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2016.[6]

Education and early career[edit]

Nunez grew up in Peru and Tallahassee, Florida. He received his undergraduate degree from Antioch College where he made his first fictional shorts, "Fairground" (1968) and "Taking Care of Mother Baldwin" (1970). At the UCLA Film School, Nunez received an MFA in film directing with his thesis short film, "Charly Benson's Return to the Sea" (1972), and went on to make another short, "A Circle in the Fire" (1974).

Gal Young Un[edit]

Nunez made his feature debut in 1979 with the film Gal Young Un, which premiered at the 1979 New York Film Festival. Gal Young Un, based on the short story by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, centers on a spinster woman who lives alone in the woods of north Florida until she is swept off her feet by an opportunistic bootlegger, Trax. He marries her for her place and her daddy's money and her cooking and cleaning, which she freely shares. Inevitably, he shows his true colors in a variety of ways. One day Trax brings home a very young woman with clear intentions of keeping her as a mistress (a gal young 'un) in the older woman's house. Business takes him elsewhere and the two woman are left alone in the woods together to come to terms with their shared exploitation by Trax.

Vincent Canby writing in the New York Times called Gal Young Un

"An astonishingly good first feature."[7]

The film was seminal in the early movement of American Independent Cinema. In 2006 Emanuel Levy wrote:

"Victor Nunez's first feature, Gal Young Un, which he wrote, directed, shot, and edited, helped to shape regional cinema within the larger independent movement. The period details are striking, particularly Nunez' camera work."[8]

A Flash of Green[edit]

Based on a novel by John D. MacDonald and starring Ed Harris, premiered at the 1984 New York Film Festival . A story about saving an unspoiled bay from greedy developers, and ending with a story about a man trying to save himself from his own greed.

Vincent Canby wrote:

"Mr. Nunez does not make simple films. The film is the second feature to be written and directed by Mr. Nunez, the Florida film maker who delivered a bona fide green flash with Gal Young 'Un, his spare, beautiful adaptation of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings story. A Flash of Green is not perfect, but it is provocative and nearly always intelligent."[9]

Ruby in Paradise[edit]

In 1993 he made Ruby in Paradise, which starred Ashley Judd, in her first leading role, and also future Academy nominated filmmaker Todd Field. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival.

Roger Ebert wrote:

"Ruby in Paradise" is a breathtaking movie... the writing, the acting, the lighting, the direction - you will be looking at a movie that knows exactly what it is about, and how to achieve it. "Ruby in Paradise" was written, directed and edited by Victor Nunez, a Floridian whose previous films, "Gal Young Un" and "A Flash of Green," showed a deep sympathy with his characters. Nunez cares about his people - what they need and how they feel."[10]

Ulee's Gold[edit]

Peter Fonda plays Ulee (short for Ulysses) Jackson, a Vietnam veteran, widower and grandfather. He is a beekeeper by profession, who raises two granddaughters, Jessica Biel and Vanessa Zima, because his son, Tom Wood, is in prison and his daughter-in-law Christine Dunford, a drug addict, has run away. Fonda was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.

Kenneth Turan wrote:

"There is a quality about this film's use of deliberation that comes at times wonderfully close to magic."[11]

Sundance Film Festival[edit]

Nunez is one of the founding members of the Utah/US Film Festival which was renamed the Sundance Film Festival in 1991.



  1. ^ The New York Times
  2. ^ Filmmaker magazine interview
  3. ^ The Onion A.V. Club interview
  4. ^ Research in Review magazine interview
  5. ^ Victor Nuñez Florida Artists Hall of Fame
  6. ^ "NEW MEMBERS 2016: ACADEMY INVITES 683 TO MEMBERSHIP". | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 2016-06-29. Retrieved 2016-12-31.
  7. ^ Vincent Canby (24 September 1979). "Nunez's 'Gal Young Un':In Florida's Backwoods". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Levy, Emanuel (28 April 2006). "Gal Young Un".
  9. ^ Vincent Canby (5 October 1984). "FILM FESTIVAL; 'FLASH OF GREEN,' A BRIBE AMID HONOR". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger (26 November 1993). "Ruby In Paradise".
  11. ^ Kenneth Turan (13 June 1997). "Fonda a la Fonda in 'Ulee's Gold'". Los Angeles Times.

External links[edit]