Patricia Cardoso (born 1961) is a Colombian director, producer and writer best known for her 2002 film Real Women Have Curves, starring America Ferrera, George Lopez and Lupe Ontiveros. Before embarking on a career in cinema Cardoso studied archaeology and anthropology at the Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá. In 1987 she won a prestigious Fulbright scholarship from the Institute of International Education, U.S. State Department, to study filmmaking at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, from which she obtained an MFA. Between 1989 and 1994 Cardoso wrote, directed and produced numerous short films including El reino de los cielos (The Water Carrier, 1996), for which she received a 1996 Student Academy Award (Gold Medal in the Dramatic Category) and a Directors Guild of America Student Film Award. She started working for the Sundance Institute in 1991, first as an intern and then as the director of the institute’s Latin America program. Later, between 2003 and 2014, she served as an advisor for the institute’s Feature Film Program. Throughout her career Cardoso has directed and produced numerous films, television programs and web series. Her films have been selected to screen at various international festivals, including London, Toronto, San Sebastián, Chicago and Sundance. In 2006 Cardoso received a Smithsonian Recognition Award. She has taught filmmaking at USC and UCLA.
Patricia Cardoso is interviewed by Lourdes Portillo at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood on April 14, 2015. It 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.
Cardoso shares stories of her upbringing in Bogotá, Colombia. She speaks about how she cultivated a love of literature and an aptitude for story-telling from a very young age, citing Gabriel García Márquez as her cultural hero. She details the years she spent studying archaeology and anthropology at the Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, and her experiences going on trips to the Amazon, the Caribbean coast, the Ecuador frontier and the Andes to work as an excavation assistant. She shares her early memories of going to the movies to see Hollywood films and chronicles her move to California after receiving a Fulbright scholarship at the age of 25. She talks about her experience studying film at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and her great fondness for her teachers Richard and Barbara Marks, both of whom she describes as having a profound influence on her life and career as a filmmaker. She discusses in detail the films she made while studying at UCLA: Cartas al niño Dios (Letters to Child God, 1991) and El reino de los cielos (The Water Carrier, 1996). She ponders over the success of these films and happily remembers winning a Student Academy Award for El reino de los cielos. She shares her memories observing director Milos Forman working on Man on the Moon (1999) and recounts how she ended up working for Sundance, first as an unpaid assistant for Alberto Garcia, the director of the festival at the time, and then later as the festival’s director of the Latin American program. She highlights the positive impact that the institute’s workshops and script labs for Latin-American filmmakers have had on Latin-American cinema in general, and also discusses the difficulties that come from labelling and typecasting filmmakers in this context.
Cardoso describes how the project Real Women Have Curves (2002) came about and shares her experiences working with writer Josefina López, production designer Brigitte Broch and actors Lupe Ontiveros and George Lopez. She shares her impressions of the studio system in Hollywood, including personal anecdotes from her time working in development for both Universal and Disney. She also discusses working on the television movie Lies in Plain Sight (2010) and her web-series “Ro” (2012). Cardoso concludes the interview by offering advice for Latin-American producers in Hollywood. She emphasizes the sentiment that successful producers, writers and directors must truly believe in the story they wish to tell.