Nava, Gregory (1949–)

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Nava, Gregory (1949–)

Gregory Nava, a Mexican-American film director, writer, and producer, aims to bring Hispanic stories and characters into the mainstream of U.S. popular culture. Nava was born on April 10, 1949, in San Diego, and attended the UCLA film school. His first major success as a director was El Norte (1984), which he co-wrote with his wife, Anna Thomas. The film tells the story of a Guatemalan brother and sister who immigrate illegally to the United States. In many of his films Nava places Hispanic characters at the center of the action in stories that contain a universal message. Selena (1997) is a biopic of the Texas-born singer who became a Latin music star; Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1998), also the story of a popular singer, in this case focuses on an African American, Frankie Lymon. The feature film My Family/Mi familia (1995) and the PBS drama American Family (2002, 2004) offer multigenerational portraits of Mexican families in the United States. Although his work has been described by some as melodramatic, he has won critical praise as well as Oscar and Emmy nominations. His film Bordertown (2006) was nominated for a Golden Bear at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival. Nava has worked with well-known Latino actors from the United States and Latin America, including Sonia Braga, Jennifer Lopez, Esai Morales, Edward James Olmos, and Raquel Welch.

See alsoCinema: Since 1990; Hispanics in the United States.


André, María Claudia. "Familia y comunidad como bases del proceso de adaptación social en tres largometrajes chicanos: … y no se lo tragó la tierra, El Norte y My Family." In The Ties That Bind: Questioning Family Dynamics and Family Discourse in Hispanic Literature, ed. Sara E. Cooper, 127-154. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2004.

Fojas, Camilla. "Schizopolis: Border Cinema and the Global City of Angels." Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies 31, no.1 (2006): 7-31.

Nava, Gregory. Interview by Bill Moyers for the PBS program NOW, February 15, 2002. Transcript available from

Williams, Bruce. "The Bridges of Los Angeles County: Marketing Language in the Chicano Cinema of Gregory Nava." Canadian Journal of Film Studies/Revue Canadienne D'Etudes Cinématographiques 14, no. 2 (2005): 54-70.

                                          Caryn C. Connelly