Victor Nuñez

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For the Costa Rican football player, see Víctor Núñez.
Victor Nuñez
Born 1945 (age 69–70)
Occupation Film director, screenwriter

Victor Nuñez (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 Jessica Biel and Peter Fonda.[1][2][3][4] Nuñez was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2008.[5]

Education and early career[edit]

Nuñez grew up in Peru and Tallahassee, Florida. He received his undergraduate degree from Antioch College and an MFA in film directing from the UCLA Film School. He spent the beginning of his career directing low-budget, non-"Hollywood" projects. In the 1970s he made three fictional shorts, "Taking Care of Mother Baldwin" (1970), "Charly Benson's Return to the Sea" (1972), and "A Circle in the Fire" (1974).

Gal Young Un[edit]

Main article: Gal Young Un

Nuñez made his feature debut in 1979 with the film Gal Young 'Un which premiered at the 1979 New York Film Festival. Gal Young 'Un 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. 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 he 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 exploitedness.

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

"An astonishingly good first feature."[6]

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."[7]

A Flash of Green[edit]

Main article: A Flash of Green

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."[8]

Ruby in Paradise[edit]

Main article: Ruby in Paradise

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."[9]

Ulee's Gold[edit]

Main article: Ulee's Gold

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's was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor.

Kenneth Turan wrote:

"There is a quality about this film's use of deliberation that comes at times wonderfully close to magic."[10]

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.


Nunez lives outside Panama City Beach, Florida, the setting of most of his films.



  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. ^ Canby, Vincentl (24 September 1979). "'Gal Young Un':In Florida's Backwoods". New York Times. 
  7. ^ Levy, Emanuel (28 April 2006). "Gal Young Un". [1]. 
  8. ^ Canby, Vincent (5 October 1984). "A Flash of Green (1984) FILM FESTIVAL; 'FLASH OF GREEN,' A BRIBE AMID HONOR". New York Times. 
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (26 November 1993). "Ruby In Paradise". 
  10. ^ Turan, Kennetr (14 February 2001). "Ulee's Gold". Los Angeles times. 

External links[edit]