Novaro, María 1951-

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Novaro, María 1951-


Given name María Luisa Novaro Peñaloza; born September 11, 1951, in Mexico City, Mexico. Education: Studied sociology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico; studied filmmaking at the University Center for Film Studies, Mexico City, Mexico.


Agent—c/o AltaVista Films, 6121 Santa Monica Blvd., Ste. 102, Hollywood, CA 90038.


Film director, cinematographer, editor, actress, producer, and author. Directed films include (and editor and cinematographer) Conmigo la pasarasmuy bien, 1982, (and editor) 7 A.M., 1982, (and editor)Querida Carmen, 1983, Pervertida, 1985, (and editor) Una Isla rodeada de agua, 1986, Historias de ciudad, 1988, Azul celeste, 1988, Lola, 1990, (and editor)Danzón, 1991, Otoñal, 1993, (and editor) El Jardín del Edén, 1994, Enredando sombras, 1998, andSin dejar huella, 2000. Cinematographer of (and editor)Luego platicamos, 1982, (and editor) J.M., 1982,Barco de papel, (1982), (and editor) Olvidalo, no tiene importancia, 1983, Mala maña, 1983, (and editor) El Curso habitual, 1983, and Tercera llamada, 1985. Also editor for films Es primera vez, 1982, E refuego,1982, (and producer) Feliz viaje, 1986.


Silver Ariel award, Mexican Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, 1986, for best short fiction for Una Isla rodeada de agua,and 1990, for best screenplay and best first work, both for Lola; Golden Danzante, 1990, for Azul celeste;OCIC Award, 1991, for Lola; Latin America Cinema Award, 2001, for Sin dejar huella.



7 A.M., 1982.

Una Isla rodeada de agua (title means "An Island Surrounded by Water"), 1986.

(With sister, Beatriz Novaro) Lola, 1990.

(With Beatriz Novaro) Danzón (screenplay), 1991, published with prologue by Sergio González Rodríguez, Ediciones El Milagro (Mexico City, Mexico), 1994.

El Jardín del Edén, 1994.

Sin dejar huella, 2000.

SIDELIGHTS: The 1990s were an exciting decade in Mexican cinema, especially for women filmmakers. Between 1989 and 1992, five women debuted feature films—María Novaro, Busi Cortés, Dana Rotberg, Marysa Systach, and Guita Schyfter. Most of these women made their second features within two years of their first. María Novaro contributed to this renaissance of Mexican cinema with the production of Danzón,her second feature, which earned international acclaim. She has also earned three Ariel Silver awards, which are the Mexican equivalent of the Academy Award, one for Una Isla rodeada de aguaand two for Lola.

In the 1980s Novaro produced a number of short films that were all well received. She introduced in these shorts a number of aesthetic and political themes that resound throughout her oeuvre. She is unapologetically feminist, and continuously explores the role of women in Mexican society, gender inequity, the limits of fantasy and desire, and the political realities of being next-door neighbors with the mighty United States of America. In her combination of aesthetic and textual complexity, Novaro contributes to a strong movement of feminist filmmaking that began across Latin America in the late 1970s and continues today.

Her best-known short, Una Isla rodeada de agua ("An Island Surrounded by Water"), is about a young orphan girl's search for her mother. Its setting, Guerrero on the coast of Costa Grande, enhances the girl's quest, which represents her conflicting feelings about coming into womanhood. The search for her displaced mother becomes, in the end, a search for a guide into the next phase of life, or for the woman inside herself.

Novaro's other shorts examine distinct moments in the lives of Mexican women. 7 A.M., for one, allegorizes the contrast between the day of an average working woman and her fantasies of a life of leisure, informed by her experiences of mass media. Her feature-film debut, Lola, garnered several Ariel nominations, including for best feature debut and best film script. Like her subsequent films, Lola, was written in collaboration with Novaro's sister, Beatriz. Lola is set in one of the shantytowns that surround Mexico City, just after the earthquake of 1985. Through its protagonists, a female street peddler and rock ‘n’ roll fan, the film examines social and sexual politics.

In 1990 Novaro came to the attention of the international film community with Danzón. It is the story of a telephone operator and single mother, Julia, whose ballroom dancing takes the place of any emotional life. She is devastated when her dancing partner, Carmelo, disappears, so she embarks on a dizzying quest to find him. As much inner voyage as odyssey, Julia's extraordinary journey is exuberant, difficult, and fulfilling for her. Janet Maslin, writing in the New YorkTimes, called it a "gentle and earnest story of one woman's voyage of self-discovery."

Novaro followed Danzón with a film about Mexicans in Tijuana struggling to cross the border into theUnited States. El Jardín del Edén portrays the would-be emigrés as regular people who are seeking a better life and hoping to find it in the United States. Like the biblical garden, however, the mythical northern neighbor has hidden risks and dangers. Coinciding with the NAFTA agreement and the U.S. bailout of the Mexican economy, El Jardín del Edéntries to humanize people who are generally portrayed by the U.S. press as dirty, backward, and subhuman, reminding audiences what it should mean to be a neighbor.



New York Times, September 25, 1992, Janet Maslin, "Reviews/Film; A Melodious Variation on Feminist Awareness," review of Danzón.

Variety, October 9, 2000, David Rooney, review of Sin dejar huella, p. 26.