Just this past weekend, Peruvian director Nora de Izcue celebrated her 83rd birthday. A pioneer in her country, she was the first woman to direct a film in Peru. She got her start as an assistant director to Armando Robles Godoy on La Muralla Verde (1969) and Espejismo (1973). Her first project was 1973’s Runan Caycu (soy un hombre). The documentary followed indigenous activist Saturnino Huillca as he led the fight for the land of the Cusco people ahead of the 1969 agrarian reform – an early sign that de Izcue would be interested in telling stories about her own country. Her 1991 doc film El viento de todas partes, for example, would later focus on the 2000 protests which led to the dissolution of the Fujimori government following that year’s contested elections.
The famed director was also one of the founding members of the Havana-based Fundación del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano (setup in 1985) which was presided by Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez. Other founding members included Chilean Miguel Littín and Argentine Fernando Birri. Her long career was recently feted at the latest Festival de Cine de Lima where her movies, including her most recent (2013’s Responso para un abrazo: tras la huella de un poeta, a documentary about the legendary poet César Calvo) were celebrated alongside her work as a teacher and advocate for Latin American cinema. Check out the video tribute to the fearless director below.