Cruz (Chatino)has produced seven documentaries on indigenous people from Oaxaca living in the United States and Mexico. In 2011 she was selected to participate in Sundance Institute’s Screenwriting Lab for her first feature narrative film, La Raya (working title). For the project, in 2010, Cruz was awarded a Sundance Institute-Ford Foundation Fellowship to participate in an intensive four-day workshop held at the Mescalero Apache Reservation in New Mexico, and she also attended Sundance’s Creative Producing Summit.
In 2009 Cruz’ most recent documentary, 2501 Migrants: A Journey, was an official selection of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and winner of the Best Feature Documentary at the Guanajuato International Film Festival, Expresión en Corto, held in San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato, Guanajuato, Mexico. The film has screened internationally at the Los Angeles County Museum, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in New York and Washington, D.C., and in the Semana de Cine Experimental in Madrid. It was also broadcast by American Public Television.
Other works have screened at the Sundance Film Festival, National Geographic All Roads Film Festival, Guggenheim Museum, Parc de la Villette in Paris, and the National Cinema Institute in Mexico City. Cruz has participated in several programs organized by the NMAI Film and Video Center (FVC), including a public discussion among Native women filmmakers at the NMAI in Washington, D.C. She also served as a regional liaison for Video México Indígena/Video Native Mexico, FVC’s 2003 national video tour featuring indigenous works and filmmakers from Oaxaca and Michoacán.
In 2003 Cruz founded Petate Productions, a company focused on using film and video to reflect upon the displacement of indigenous Oaxacan culture. Cruz received a BA from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. She received a MFA from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, where she produced her first film, Entre Sueños, which was subsequently selected for the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. Cruz is also the author of Oaxaca Sabores Simples: A Culinary Voyage through Indigenous Communities of Oaxaca, Mexico. Born in Cieneguilla, Oaxaca, and fluent in Chatino, Spanish and English, Cruz lives with her husband in Los Angeles.
"I like to encounter histories in the kitchen, in the country,
in the streets. I believe that dialogue is important to be able
to be understood by the rest of the world. Visual language is
Screened by NMAI
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Yolanda Cruz - courtesy of the filmmaker; Yolanda Cruz