Laura Varela is a documentary filmmaker whose work is shaped by her roots growing up on the US/Mexico border in El Paso, TX. Her work crosses cultural, linguistic and physical borders through the use of film and contemporary art installations. She now resides in San Antonio, TX where she works as a filmmaker and artist. Varelafilm recently merged with Xica Media, a mission driven creative agency and digital networks.
Varela’s documentary, As Long as I Remember:American Veteranos was broadcast on PBS from 2010 to 2016. She is currently producing and directing the documentary, raul salinas: The Poetry of Liberation for PBS.
She is a recipient of awards from The National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, Humanities Texas, Latino Public Broadcasting’s Public Media Content Fund, ITVS and Best Director Award from the San Antonio Film Festival. In 2016 she co-founded the Texas based non-profit organization Growing Empowered Together, whose mission is to amplify young leaders and artists voices and encourage voter and civic participation. Her production company recently merged with the Xica Media digital networks where an expansion of both missions is now underway.
Her work as a media artist has been exhibited at the San Antonio Museum of Art, Blue Star Contemporary Arts Center and the UTSA downtown art gallery public art projects that include spaces like the Alamo, San Fernando Cathedral and San Pedro Springs in San Antonio.
Varela lectures and screens her work around the country at various cultural centers and Universities and in recent years has taught courses on documentary film at the University of Texas San Antonio. She is alumni of the CPB/PBS Producers academy, the NALAC Leadership Institute, the NALIP Producers Academy, and Creative Capital Professional Development Workshop. Artist Residencies include Swarthmore College, Art for Change in NYC, and the Hochschule Niederrhein and Faust Academy in Germany.
As a filmmaker and artist my work is shaped by the influences and awareness of growing up on the U.S./Mexico border. My work crosses cultural, linguistic and physical borders through the use of documentary film and contemporary art installations; challenging iconography and discourse of popular culture. I identify as a Xicana filmmaker whose work is in service to her community, striving for a deeper understanding of her history and culture.
My goal with everything I create is to connect it to a larger movement for social change and liberation within Xicana and indigenous communities. Through subject matter and my insider lens I feel that my work subverts the mainstream narrative. My projects provide a glimpse of those whose roots have been part of the Americas for hundreds if not thousands of years; nevertheless, our stories have been omitted from mainstream literature, films, and television. It is a digital resistance, of sorts, where I get to re-write our histories back into the “books” and psyche of those willing to bear witness. These medicine stories allow us to heal, recover, and remember.
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