Natalia Almada

Natalia Almada was born in Mexico City in 1974. The great-granddaughter of Mexico’s controversial 40th president Plutarco Elías Calles, she makes intimate films that delve into the tragedies of her Mexican-American family’s personal history as well as the Sinaloa region’s violent present. Ranging from documentary to fiction to experimental narrative, Almada’s films portray a world filtered through recollection and constructed by diverging points of view. Whether chronicling the daily lives of Mexican drug smugglers, immigrants, corrido musicians, or government bureaucrats, Almada’s camera acts a witness to lives ensnared by violence and power struggles.

What comes into view is a portrait of society, both its political history and collective memory, as told through individual experiences. Her lyrical films adopt non-linear and multilayered approaches to storytelling, advancing the narrative through arresting images, poetic observations, and meditative scenes that unfold in real time. Almada’s own presence—sympathetic yet questioning—pervades each film through her role as director, cinematographer, editor, narrator, and at times autobiographical subject of the work.

Natalia Almada attended the Rhode Island School of Design (MFA, 2001) and the College of Santa Fe (BFA, 1995). Her awards and residencies include the Headlands Center for the Arts (2015), MacArthur Fellowship (2012), Alpert Award (2011), MacDowell Colony Fellowship (2011), United States Artists Fellowship (2010), Sundance Directing Award for Documentary (2009), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2008). Almada’s films have screened at New Directors/New Film, Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, Documenta, Munich International Film Festival, The Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and as part of the POV series on PBS. Natalia Almada lives and works between Mexico City, Mexico, and San Francisco, CA, USA.

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A look at this week's art news, including Natalia Almada's film premiere at the New York Film Festival, and events and exhibitions everywhere from Bremen to Belgium.

This text has been excerpted from director Deborah Dickson’s many interviews with Season 8 artist Natalia Almada in the course of creating the “Mexico City” episode of “Art in the Twenty-First Century” Season 8. This interview was also published in the Art21 Magazine‘s “Place Part I” issue.