Matilde Landeta

Matilde Soto Landeta (September 20, 1910 or 1913 – January 26, 1999) was a Mexican pioneer filmmaker and screenwriter during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. Her films centred on the portrayal of strong, realistic female protagonists in a patriarchal world.


She started her film career as a Script girl, in the 1930s with the help of her brother Eduardo and eventually became an assistant director. Landeta did not go to film school, however was able to understand the industry by working with well known Mexican directors such as Emilio Fernández, Julio Bracho, and Roberto Gavaldón. [1] Since Landeta was working in a male dominated industry, she experienced gender inequality throughout her career and would have to continue to convince her aptitude in the film industry, and Isabel Arredondo explains that "In the 1940s Landeta had to fight by herself; there were no other women to fight with her".[2] She faced gender discrimination when applying for the promotion of assistant director and had to prove herself to the Union of Cinema Industry Workers that she was capable to do the job.[3] One day, she came to work with a moustache and shouted like a director to the crew members and they laughed however, she was serious.[4] Landeta reached out to the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Produccion Cinematografica to get her promotion of assistant director.[2]

As a filmmaker, she was not able to get funding for her films and ended up putting her house up for collateral to be able to form her own production company TACMA S.A. de C.V.[5] Her first and second feature films were adaptations of Francisco Rojas González's novel Lola Casanova (1948) and La negra Angustias (1949) and she co-wrote and directed Trotacalles (1951)

Landeta was to direct Tribunal de menores however, she needed additional funds to make her film therefore she asked help from the National Bank of Cinematography member Eduardo Garduaño. He convinced Landeta to sell her screenplay and sold the film to director Alfonso Corona Blake which was renamed El camino de la vida.[1] They tried to exclude her name from the credits but she ended up suing them and maintained recognition for her screenplay. However due to this incident, the National Bank of Cinematography stopped supporting her which prevented her from working as a filmmaker in the Mexican film industry [6] therefore, she decided to work in the United States.[7]

She continued writing for many years where she wrote over 100 shorts and after several decades later she wrote and directed her last feature film Nocturno a Rosario (1991).

Personal life

Landeta grew up in a middle-class family where she lived with her grandmother. Her parents did not believe that a woman could have a film career therefore, they were against her career choice however, eventually they accepted it. Before Landeta married colonel Martín Toscano Rodríguez she had stated to him that filmmaking was an important part of her life and that he would have to respect that about her, which he did.[4] They were married for ten years and ended up divorcing. Landeta did not want to have any children however, she had given birth to a boy with a heart condition who ended up dying three days later.[4]

Awards and recognition

Landeta won an Ariel Award in 1957 for Best Original Story for the film El camino de la vida which she co-wrote with her brother Eduardo. The film also won the 1957 Golden Ariel, the Silver Ariel Film of Major National Interest and Best Direction and two other awards in 1956 in the Berlin International Film Festival under the name of Alfonso Corona Blake.[8]

In 1975, Landeta was recognized for her film La negra Angustias in the Women Directors category for the International Women's Year. This was the first recognition she received including many others such as: the Italian Festival de Cine Femenino that paid homage to Landeta and showed her films in 1987; the Ariel Awards that gave her an honorary award for Lifetime Achievement in 1992 and many more between those years. Landeta also taught at the Instituto Cinematográfico, the first film school in Mexico; and she presided the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of México twice.

In 2004, the Matilde Landeta Cultural Association was created to award screenwriters annual scholarships.


Year Film Role
1948 Lola Casanova Writer, Producer, Director
1949 La negra Angustias Writer, Producer, Director
1951 Trotacalles Writer, Procuder, Director
1956 El camino de la vida Writer
1958 Siempre estaré contigo Writer
1976 Ronda Revolucionaria Writer
1986 Rescate de las islas Revillagigedo Writer, Producer, Director
1991 Nocturno a Rosario Writer, Producer, Director


  1. 1 2 De Paoli, Maria-Teresa, and Felipe Pruneda Senties. "Mexico." Women Screenwriters an International Guide. By Jill Nelmes and Jule Selbo. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. N. pag. Print
  2. 1 2 Arredondo, Isabel (2013). Motherhood in Mexican Cinema, 1941-1991: The Transformation of Femininity on Screen. McFarland. p. 20. ISBN 978-0786468041.
  3. DePaoli, Maria Teresa (2014). The Story of the Mexican Screenplay: A Study of the Invisible Art Form and Interviews with Women Screenwriters. Peter Lang Publishing Inc. ISBN 978-1433123818.
  4. 1 2 3 "Matilde Landeta: Pionera de la Cinematografia Mexicana". Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  5. González Calderón, Diana Elisa (October 5, 2015). "El campo ausente de la representación de las mujeres en el cine mexicano presencias en la vida y obra de Matilde Landeta" (PDF). Departament de Comunicació Audiovisual I Publicitat.
  6. Commire, Anne (2007). Dictionary of Women Worldwide: 25,000 Women Through the Ages. Yorkin Publications. pp. 1080–1081.
  7. Huaco-Nuzum, Carmen (1987-09-21). "Matilde Landeta". Screen. 28 (4): 96–106. doi:10.1093/screen/28.4.96. ISSN 0036-9543.
  8. Blake, Alfonso Corona (2000-01-01), The Road of Life, retrieved 2016-03-09

Further reading

External links

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