Oscar nominee Lourdes Portillo, director of ‘The Devil Never Sleeps,’ dead at 80

Lourdes Portillo, who wrote and directed the 1994 documentary “The Devil Never Sleeps” and was also nominated for an Academy Award for “Las Madres -- The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo,” died Saturday. She was 80.

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Portillo, who was also an investigative journalist and social activist, died at her San Francisco home, Variety reported. A cause of death was not revealed, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures presented a 10-day major retrospective of Portillo’s work in 2023, which featured her 2001 documentary “Missing Young Woman (Señorita Extraviada),” Deadline reported.

The themes of Portillo centered around Latin American and Mexican stories, according to Variety. “Las Madres – The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo,” earned Portillo an Oscar nomination.

“The Devil Never Sleeps” (1994) follow’s Portillo’s investigation of her uncle’s death in Mexico, the entertainment news website reported. In 2020, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in the Library of Congress.

“Portillo’s works defy categorization, slipping easily between docu-fiction, experimental video, and the melodrama of telenovelas,” the Academy Museum’s interim director of film programs, K.J. Relth-Miller, said, according to Deadline.

Portillo was born on Nov. 11, 1943, in Chihuahua, Mexico, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She immigrated to Los Angeles with her parents and four siblings when she was 13.

She began her career at the age of 21 when she helped a friend with a documentary, Variety reported. She produced her first film, “After the Earthquake,” in 1979.

Portillo is survived by three children, four siblings, five grandchildren and extended family in Mexico and the U.S, according to a spokesperson.

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