Patricia Cardoso: Oscar Winner, Director, and Influencer

Studies and Early Years | Teaching Career | Oscar Winning Patricia Cardoso

Patricia Cardoso is the first Latinx to win the Dramatic Audience Award of Sundance Film Festival and the Student Academy Award. Shefeature Real Women Have Curves was a critical success at the box office. It became a milestone in Latino cinema. She’s definitely one of the most famous Colombian women.

Cardoso emphasizes that successful producers, writers, and directors must believe in the stories they want to tell (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 2019). The narrative surrounding women in film is changing, but whether it’s worth labeling a director is still up for debate.

Studies and Early Years

After the 1994 short film The Water Carrier of Cucunuba, Cardoso finished her doctoral thesis. This thesis made her win the Student Academy Award. Also, two Directors Guild of America Awards. Patricia Cardoso wrote four feature-length scripts later. She was best known for her HBO film Real Women Have Curves in 2002. This film won the Dramatic Audience Award and the Special Acting Award at the Sundance Film Festival. It stars America Ferrera and Lupe Ontivero (Weekly, 2019).

Cardoso shared her early memories of going to the movies and watching Hollywood movies. She described how she moved to California at 25 after a Fulbright scholarship. She was the first Colombian to receive a scholarship to study film in Los Angeles (Weekly, 2019).

Cardoso, a UCLA student whose film The Water Carrier won a student Oscar and two Directors Guild of America awards (ASU News, 2016). When Cardoso was a film student at UCLA, she realized that there were homemade picture books and storyboards everywhere. Because of the lack of technology in her household, films were made with toothpicks, paper, and cardboard.

She was head of Latin American programming at Sundance for five years and worked with Universal, Disney, HBO, Sony, Lifetime Films and independent CIBY 2000 (American Film Showcase, n.d.). She currently develops feature film projects for Universal and Disney and CibY 2000 and Open City Films.

Teaching Career

Patricia teaches two courses at the University of California, Riverside, in the Department of Theatre, Film and Digital Production (University of California, 2019). “Having Cardoso in the faculty is an unprecedented opportunity for students and the community at UC Riverside”, said Rickerby Hinds, the faculty’s current president and professor of dramaturgy.

As a second-year film student, she caught the eye with her short film Air Globe (1990). Air Globe won the prize for best student film at Sundance (Weekly, 2019).

Oscar Winning Patricia Cardoso

2020 Oscar winners include Robert Zemeckis, Cary Fukunaga, Pete Docter, Spike Lee, Trey Parker, Patricia Riggen and her (CGW, n.d.).

Seven films were redirected by women. Including the 1984 documentary Stonewall with Greta Schiller and Claudia Weill.

It also included the 2002 indie film Real Women Have the Curves. It was also co-directed by Cardoso and stars America Ferrera and Madeline Anderson.

In 2019, Cardoso’s film Real Women Have Curves was selected for inclusion in the National Film Archives by the Library of Congress. It was considered as a cinematic treasure worth protecting as part of America’s heritage (Library of Congress, 2019).

The Water Carrier, the film she produced as a doctoral student at UCLA, paved the way for women of color. In front of and behind the camera.

While she attended film school, she watched a play called Simply Maria in a theater in L.A.. And when she saw her name for the first time on a screen in the library at Sundance there was a full house and a standing ovation (Aguilar, 2017).

This crowd-pleaser by Josefina Lopez and written by Cardoso premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002. The film won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. It also won two Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actress. She carved out a film career despite a dearth of women and people of color (Weekly, 2019).

She sets a high bar for Colombian women and shows the world that Colombia offers a lot to the film industry.


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Real Women Have Curves filmmaker Patricia Cardoso is next p.a.v.e. (2016). From

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