There are certainly similarities between director Patricia Riggen’s most recent films, The 33 and Miracles From Heaven. Both are based on real events and focus on rescuing people from tight, dark spaces.
The 33 is about the Chilean miners buried in a 2010 cave-in, while Miracles tells the story of a Burleson girl trapped inside a tree who believes she is saved by heavenly intercession.
But the Mexican-raised, Los Angeles-based Riggen says she didn’t feel like she was repeating herself.
“[Miracles] was very different and I was looking forward to that difference. I was looking forward to a female cast, female characters, and hospitals and buildings with air conditioning,” she said with a laugh by phone from L.A., recalling the time spent in mines filming The 33. “[And] it was a step away from the Latin themes.”
In three of her previous movies — Girl in Progress, Under the Same Moon and, of course, The 33 — Riggen has dealt with Latin culture and characters. Now, she wants to widen her canvas, much as several of her more famous Mexican contemporaries — Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity), Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim, Hellboy), Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman, The Revenant) — have done.
I’m still dealing with the fact that I’m a woman. Being Mexican is not a problem.
Patricia Riggen, on diversity in Hollywood
She says being a Latina trying to make it as a director in the U.S. has given her a unique view on the arguments about diversity currently roiling Hollywood.
“You used to be typecast to a certain type of story. If you were Latin, you should do Latin movies. These guys came and broke the mold,” she says.
“Now, I can get a movie about a religious Texas family. … [But] I’m still dealing with the fact that I’m a woman. Being Mexican is not a problem. … [But] I think the size of the movies is affected by being a female or male director. Hopefully, that will change.”