Gregory Nava (born 1949) is director and screenwriter known for his thematic focus on the international Latin-American diaspora. A native of San Diego, California, Nava graduated from St. Augustine High School and enrolled in UCLA’s film program. His thesis project, The Journal of Diego Rodriguez Silva (1972), won the Best Dramatic Film Award at the 1972 National Student Film Festival. Sharing screenwriting duties with his wife, Anna Thomas, Nava produced and directed his first feature, The Confessions of Amans (1977), winning critical plaudits and the Best First Feature Award at the Chicago International Film Festival. The couple would subsequently collaborate on the critically acclaimed El norte (1983). The film earned the team a 1984 Academy Award nomination for Original Screenplay. He would continue to explore the complexities of Latin-American culture with My Family, Mi Familia (1995), Selena (1997) and Bordertown (2007).
Director Gregory Nava is interviewed by Lourdes Portillo at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills for a two-part interview on June 16, 2015, and March 9, 2016. This is a co-production with the Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative and is part of the project From Latin America to Hollywood: Latino Film Culture in Los Angeles 1967-2017. Nava shares stories about growing up in San Diego, California, and talks about his family’s frequent trips to Southern California movie houses. He discusses his introduction to filmmaking by borrowing his brother’s 8mm camera to film shorts based on comic book characters. Nava reminisces about discovering his cultural roots that resulted in a profound spiritual experience during a family trip to Guadalajara, Mexico, at the age of sixteen.
He recalls attending UC Berkeley and transferring to UCLA’s film school, where he shot his Project One film The Journal of Diego Rodriguez Silva (1972). Nava muses on how UCLA’s politically charged climate influenced the film and details his guerrilla-style directorial approach. He discusses his next project, The Confessions of Amans (1977), recalling the challenges faced for the film’s initial distribution. He notes how Roger Ebert’s public support of The Confessions of Amans was a turning point that eventually led to a limited theatrical run for the film.