Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Lorena R. Valencia

By Katie Chambers

Welcome to NYWIFT, Lorena R. Valenica!

Lorena R. Valencia is a Mexican writer-director based in New York. Her directorial debut and MFA thesis film, Cuanacaquilitl (Dandelion), received the 2022 National Board of Review Student Award and is an Official Selection in several international film festivals, including the Morelia International Film Festival, the Atlanta Film Festival, the New York Latino Film Festival, and the NewFilmmakers Los Angeles Film Festival.

Lorena is passionate about both narrative and documentary storytelling and is interested in addressing issues such as reproductive rights, identity, and belonging. Currently, she is directing Mi Ranchito, a documentary short film that explores resilience and love for the land, while she is developing her debut feature film, Mayahuel.

Lorena spoke to us about inspiring empathy through storytelling, the overlap of narrative and documentary filmmaking, and her latest projects.


NYWIFT Member Lorena R. Valencia


Your work deals with major issues like reproductive rights, identity and belonging, and motherhood. How do you envision storytelling as a pathway toward creating positive change?

I believe that storytelling has the unique ability to connect people on a personal level. I’m driven by the idea of using cinema as a medium to inspire empathy, making even the most complex issues relatable, and ultimately fostering positive change through a deeper understanding.



You work in both narrative and documentary – do you prefer one over the other? What draws you to each of the mediums? 

No, I love both. At the end of the day, I am a storyteller. What changes is the way I tell a story. In fact, I apply my narrative skills to my documentary projects and vice versa. My goal as a film director is to create hybrid films in which the audience interacts with them just asking themselves, “What am I watching?”

In narrative films, I like that I can create a whole universe from scratch, and I deeply submerge myself into that world, whereas in documentary films, I like the fact that I find the story while I’m documenting and it’s pretty much about flowing with the story and being present.



I’d love to hear more about your latest film, Cuanacaquilitl (Dandelion), which you wrote, directed, and produced. What inspired you to tell this story, and what do you hope audiences will take away from the film?

Cuanacaquilitl is a narrative short film created with a deep sense of passion. It draws inspiration from the often challenging and real-life experiences women face worldwide, especially within marginalized communities like my own in Mexico.

While the topic of abortions has persisted for centuries and will continue to do so, I wanted to emphasize the significance of having someone by your side to support your choices and to showcase the strength of sisterhood. This story revolves around themes of friendship and companionship.



What kinds of projects excite you?

I’m all down for stories that challenge the hegemonic gaze in cinema. 



What is the best advice you ever received? And the worst?

The best advice: When I was in grad school, a very wise professor advised me to write about something that kept me up late at night. She believed that, especially for first-time filmmakers, this approach would provide the necessary stamina and passion to develop, shoot, and complete the project, and she was totally right!

The worst advice: Someone very close to me once told me, “Stop dreaming and get back to your reality. Find a full-time job and stop wasting your time.” I immediately dismissed that unsolicited advice. Only you know what truly gives you joy, and you shouldn’t let anyone dictate your life choices. The worst that can happen if you fail is that you start over, and over again. But with patience and time, you will ultimately reach your goal.



What inspired you to join NYWIFT? How do you hope to engage with the organization?

I love the fact that I’m part of an exciting organization that truly empowers women and elevates their work. I feel seen, protected, and most importantly, I feel that I’m doing the same for other sisters.



And what is next for you?

I have two projects coming: Mi Ranchito, a documentary short film that I wrote and directed, and my Opera Prima “Mayahuel”, a feature narrative film.



Connect with Lorena R. Valencia on her website lorevalencia.com and on Instagram at @lorena_rvalencia.


Katie Chambers

Katie Chambers Katie Chambers is the Senior Director of Community & Public Relations at New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT). She also serves as the Communications Chair of the New Jersey State Federation of Women's Clubs and is a freelance writer, copyeditor, and digital marketing strategist. Follow her @KatieGChambers.

View all posts by Katie Chambers

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