|Florida Artists: Victor Nunez|
Nunez has been called a national treasure of regional independent
filmmaking. Victor Nunez has steered clear of Hollywood and remained
fairly anonymous, fusing character and place in his intimate, regional
portraits of his native Florida. A visionary writer, director,
cinematographer and producer, Mr. Nunez’s gripping work fuses character
and place in portraits of his native state of Florida. Victor Nuņez is
a film director, professor at the Florida State University College of
Motion Picture, Television and Recording Arts, and a founding member of
the Independent Feature Project. He is best known for directing
Ulee's Gold, a critically acclaimed movie starring Jessica Biel and
Peter Fonda. Victor Nunez lives outside Panama City Beach, Florida, the
setting of most of his films.
Nuņez grew up in Peru and Tallahassee, Florida. Victor Nunez received his undergraduate degree from Antioch College and an MFA in film production at UCLA and also briefly attended the American Film Institute before souring on the West Coast and returning to Tallahassee, determined to become a southern filmmaker. After Victor Nunez completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees in film, he worked on educational and industrial shorts. Nunez made three fictional shorts in the 1970's as well. Taking Care of Mother Baldwin, was about a boys tentative friendship with a woman neighbor; Charly Benson's Return to the Sea, follows a returning Vietnam veteran; and A Circle in the Fire was adapted from a 'Flannery O'Connor story about a dairy farms' inhabitants.
Victor Nunez made his Feature debut in 1979 with Gal Young 'Un, a low-budget drama set during the 1920's. It tells the story of an unhappily widowed Florida woman, her young husband and his girlfriend, the title character. It was another six years before his next film A Flash of Green, his first film to employ big-name actors. Adapted from a 'James D. MacDonald' novel, this fine, offbeat story of a reporter investigating a suspect land-fill development deal in a small Florida coastal town starred Ed Harris, Blair Brown, and 'Richard Jordan'.
After nearly ten years of futile Hollywood pitch meetings, Nunez managed to finance his third film, Ruby in Paradise in 1993. Using an inheritance of $400,000, Victor Nunez was able to present his touching tale of a young girl's journey of self-discovery from the back roads of Tennessee to Florida. Like Nunez's previous films, the movie was a hit on the festival circuit, and star Ashley Judd was trumpeted as a promising newcomer. The film's look also received praise: Nunez served as his own cameraman, under director of photography 'Alex Vaclos'. Ruby in Paradise was shot in Super-16 for a grainy, muted effect.
Ruby in Paradise was followed by Nunez's 1997 film, Ulee's Gold, starring Peter Fonda. Although Victor Nunez had an unprecedented budget of nearly $3 million for his next feature, the director still shot (literally as cameraman) "Ulee's Gold" (1997) in Super-16, blowing it up to 35mm for distribution. A richly realized drama about a man reawakening to his family responsibilities, it featured one of the finest performance of Peter Fonda's career. For his work in the title role, Peter Fonda won a Best Actor Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor. Victor Nunez won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Director and Best Screenplay. The power of Ulee's Gold, like in his previous films, lay in Nunez's ability to find and nurture the mystery of ordinary life. It is this very un-Hollywood fascination with real people that makes him anathema to the commercial establishment, despite his track record of one exquisite film after another.
Due to his ability to find and nurture the mysteries of ordinary life on film, Victor Nunez's work has twice earned the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and three times Director’s Fortnight Recognition at the Cannes Film Festival.
Victor Nunez is a visionary writer, director, cinematographer and producer. He is best known for directing Ulee's Gold, a critically acclaimed movie starring Jessica Biel and Peter Fonda. Victor Nunez lives outside Panama City Beach, Florida, the setting of most of his films. Victor Nunez's work has twice earned the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and three times Director’s Fortnight Recognition at the Cannes Film Festival.