Ella es el Matador (She is the Matador)

A film by Gemma Cubero and Celeste Carrasco

U.S./Spain | 2009 | 62 minutes | Color | DVD | Spanish and Italian | English subtitles | Order No. 09971


For Spaniards—and for the world—nothing has expressed their country’s traditionally rigid gender roles more powerfully than the image of the male matador. So sacred was the bullfighter’s masculinity to Spanish identity that a 1908 law barred women from the sport.

Visually stunning and beautifully crafted, ELLA ES EL MATADOR (She is the Matador) reveals the surprising history of the women who made such a law necessary, and offers fascinating profiles of two female matadors currently in the arena, the acclaimed Maripaz Vega and neophyte Eva Florencia. These women are gender pioneers by necessity, confronting both bull and social code. But what emerges through this mesmerizing film is their truest motivation—a sheer passion for bullfighting, in the pursuit of a dream.


“***. An interesting portrait of the fight for gender equality in a typically male-dominated activity…Recommended.”

Video Librarian

”Intelligently edited [and] engaging. A valuable educational tool. Even those familiar with Spanish culture will find some surprises here.”

Jo Labanyi Dir., King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at New York University

"A historically contextualized, thoroughly researched and culturally informed portrayal of the passions, aspirations and frustrations of young women who seek to become professional performers in the Spanish 'World of Bullfighting’."

Sarah Pink Author, “Women and Bullfighting: Gender, Sex and the Consumption of Tradition”

“Blends history with up-to-the-minute profiles…. a universal saga.”

Michael Fox SF360 (San Francisco Film Society)

“It’s impossible not to immerse yourself in the action.”

Sarah Godfrey Washington City Paper

“Beautiful—watching it, I had an incredible sense of the two women not only as devoted athletes and trailblazers, but also as people who are passionate about an art that is significant in Spanish culture.”

Anna Pinkert Still Indie

“Demonstrates poignantly the difficulty that women matadors face when trying to break in and succeed in the masculinized sport of bullfighting.”

Sandie Holguin Associate Professor Spanish /European History, University of Oklahoma

"…could inspire interesting classroom discussion about why some women are motivated to cross gender barriers and about the social support necessary for them to succeed."

Signs Journal of Women in Culture & Society


  • Tribeca All Access, Creative Promise Award: Documentary
  • Women In Direction International Film Festival, Best Documentary
  • 23rd Medina del Campo Film Festival Spain, Audience Award for Best Doc
  • Chicago Latino Film Festival
  • Silverdocs Documentary Festival
  • Sarasota Film Festival
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Guadalajara International Film Festival
  • Tulipanes Latino Film Festival
  • Redwood City Latino Film Festival
  • Dominican Republic Global Film Festival
  • Independent Film Week Spotlight on Documentaries
  • Femmes en Resistance


Gemma Cubero

Gemma Cubero del Barrio is a bilingual writer, producer, director, and teacher born in Spain with a degree in journalism born and raised in Spain. She has a passion for non-fiction storytelling using also multimedia. During the 20 years she has worked in documentary film, Gemma has managed productions from location scouting to interviews in Spain, United States, Mexico, Cuba, Germany, Argentina, Hawai'i, and the Cook Islands. Her work through her documentary production company Talcual Films as Ella Es El Matador (She Is The Matador) and Homecoming has been supported by institutions such as PBS, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Pacific Islanders in Communication, United Nations Global Environment Facility for Small Grant Program, Latino Public Broadcasting, Tribeca Film Institute, Point of View, the Spanish Embassy, the San Francisco Foundation, and the United Nations Development Program among others. Gemma also worked as an Associate Producer and Investigator on the award- winning documentary Señorita Extraviada by Lourdes Portillo's and produced with Julio Medem two feature length documentaries What's Under Your Hat? and One Percent: Schizophrenia, both with theatrical and DVD release in Spain.

Gemma combines her filmmaking with teaching at the University of Hawaii as a visiting lecturer. She was nominated for the United States Artists Fellowship and awarded an Annenberg Fellowship to obtain her M.A. at the University of Southern California. Her latest documentary Ottomaticake premiered at the 37th Hawaii International Film Festival, screened at the Doris Duke Theater, the Roxie Theater in San Francisco and was featured in MovieMaker.com Magazine. (07/19)

Celeste Carrasco

Celeste Carrasco is a native of Barcelona, Spain. Celeste was the director, producer, cinematographer and co-editor ELLA ES EL MATADOR (SHE IS THE MATADOR). For EL ABRAZO (The Embrace) and HOMECOMING, Celeste served as Director of Photography and Editor. Celeste also worked with Gemma Cubero in Lourdes Portillo’s award winning documentary SEÑORITA EXTRAVIADA and WHAT'S UNDER YOUR HAT?. Celeste’s additional credits include First Assistant Director on Marta Balletbó’s narrative film, HONEY, I’VE SENT THE MEN TO THE MOON, and Producer on Lisset Barcello’s narrative film BOTH. Most recently Celeste has worked as video artist for theatre productions such as Vanita, premiered at Teatro Real in Madrid and Java Suite, premiered at Peralada Festival, La Seca in Barcelona, and the Basel Opera House in Switzerland. Both of these productions were directed by Rita Cosentino. Celeste also collaborated with Spanish performing artist Paloma Calle on a short documentary about the live performance Hello Myself which premiered at the Reina Sofía Modern Art Museum in Madrid. Celeste currently works at the technical department of the Teatro Real in Madrid producing operas. (8/14)


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