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Patricia Cardoso is the first Latina director in the National Film Registry

Cardoso's "Real Women Have Curves," starring America Ferrera, was among a handful of movies chosen for their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the nation's film heritage.
Women In Film Annual Gala 2019 Presented By Max Mara - Arrivals
Patricia Cardoso arrives at the Women In Film Annual Gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on June 12, 2019.Amanda Edwards / WireImage file

The award-winning filmmaker Patricia Cardoso is the first Latina director to be included in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress after her groundbreaking film "Real Women Have Curves" was added to the registry.

The 2002 movie stars America Ferrera in coming-of-age tale about a first-generation Mexican American teen's struggles to fulfill her dreams amid her transition to adulthood. The charmingly funny film takes a subtle look at themes like mother-daughter relationships, the immigrant experience in the United States and the perception of feminine beauty, as well as body standards.

Ferrera was 18 when she starred in "Real Women Have Curves," marking her film debut before she gained stardom for her leading role in the acclaimed TV series "Ugly Betty" a few years later.

"What a way to start a career. It was a once-in-a-lifetime role. Hoping we can create more of these opportunities for Latino talent," tweeted Ferrera, who is of Honduran descent.

"Real Women Have Curves" broke ground in the early 2000s by highlighting women of color behind and in front of the camera as they worked to portray a hardworking Mexican American family in downtown Los Angeles in a way that resonated with Latino audiences.

The film won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002.

"I am thankful, it's an honor and I don't take it for granted," Cardoso, who is Colombian American, said of the Library of Congress' announcement.

"For me, being one of the first Latinx woman directors is very important. But I would wish I wasn't the first one. I wish there were many, many more before me and certainly hope there are many more coming behind me," said Cardoso, who is a film professor at the University of California, Riverside.

"Real Women Have Curves" is one of 25 movies the Library of Congress added in 2019 to the world's largest library offering access to the creative record of the United States.

Other 2019 selections include Luis Valdez's "Zoot Suit," which tells the story of the 1942 "Sleepy Lagoon Murder" and the racially charged "Zoot Suit Riots" in Los Angeles, as well as the late singer Prince's 1984 autobiographical film, "Purple Rain."

The actor Apollonia Kotero, who co-starred with Prince, said that "as a young Latina actress, being cast in 'Purple Rain' was the opportunity of a lifetime."

"Roles for women that looked like me were scarce in the '80s. Prince was never afraid of taking risks. He created a melting pot of cultures and racial interactions within his purple worlds. ... Prince would be thrilled," she added.

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The three films were chosen along with other classics, such as Martin Scorsese's "The Last Waltz"; Walt Disney's last classic animated fairy tale, "Sleeping Beauty"; and Spike Lee's 1986 breakout movie, "She's Gotta Have It."

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said the additions join a long list of films considered to be the nation's most influential motion pictures because of their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance.

The National Film Registry lists 775 films, 62 of them directed by women. A smaller percentage are directed by women of color.

Cardoso has carved out a career in an industry in which only 4 percent of directors are women and less than 1 percent are Latinas. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which allows her to vote for Oscar contenders.

Her most recent work includes directing episodes of Netflix's "Tales of the City," CBS' "All Rise," ABC's "Emergence" and Freeform's remake of "Party of Five."

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