Señorita Extraviada, Missing Young Woman

A film by Lourdes Portillo

US | 2001 | 74 minutes | Color | DVD | Subtitled | Order No. 03776

SENORITA EXTRAVIADA, MISSING YOUNG WOMAN tells the haunting story of the more than 350 kidnapped, raped and murdered young women of Juárez, Mexico.


SENORITA EXTRAVIADA, MISSING YOUNG WOMAN tells the haunting story of the more than 350 kidnapped, raped and murdered young women of Juárez, Mexico. Visually poetic, yet unflinching in its gaze, this compelling investigation unravels the layers of complicity that have allowed for the brutal murders of women living along the Mexico-U.S. border. In the midst of Juárez’s international mystique and high profile job market, there exists a murky history of grossly underreported human rights abuses and violence against women. The climate of violence and impunity continues to grow, and the murders of women continue to this day. Relying on what Portillo comes to see as the most reliable of sources – the testimonies of the families of the victims –SEÑORITA EXTRAVIADA, MISSING YOUNG WOMAN documents a two-year search for the truth in the underbelly of the new global economy. An Independent Television Service (ITVS) Production.


"...unforgettable...strike[s] a note of resistance[s] how sexual violence is a problem for different nationalities of women."

Elizabeth Martinez Director, Institute for MultiRacial Justice

“…serves as an example for girls and women struggling against justice. When the women of Juarez stand up and speak for themselves…we know that we can do the same in our communities.”

Lu Henry Mujeres Latinas En Accion

”A powerful documentary that would be a wonderful addition to classes on Mexico, contemporary Latin America, gender, women, violence, work, the law, human rights, globalization and a host of other topics.”

Ann Twinam Professor of History, University of Cincinnati


Sarah Goodyear Time Out New York

“Portillo’s film succeeds…Original, eloquent…”

Rita Gonzalez Release Print

" Nothing she's (Lourdes Portillo) done has been as wrenching as 'Señorita Extraviada'…'"

Edward Guthmann San Francisco Chronicle

"Elegiac, with low-key persistence, [director Lourdes Portillo] uncovers the outlines of what seem to be a vast conspiracy."

Kevin Thomas Los Angeles Times

"...[Portillo has created] a meditative investigation...with real poetic power."

Stuart Klawans The Nation

"Señorita Extraviada is a well-crafted documentary that can be used in the classroom to discuss structural, cultural, and direct violence against women in the context of capitalism. Besides, instead of giving a portrait of women as passive victims, they manage to show them as agents of change."

Orianna Calderon Films for the Feminist Classroom

"... filmmaker Lourdes Portillo steps into this chilling murder mystery with a haunting documentary…"

Anne-Marie O'Connor Los Angeles Times

"...moving account of an outrage that has continued for nearly a decade, with no end in sight. It's more gripping than 'Law & Order' and more tragic than anything a dramatist could invent."

Joanne Weintraub Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"She (Lourdes Portillo) won a 1986 Oscar nomination for 'Las Madres: The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo,' a film about political dissidents in Argentina, studied AIDS and Latinas in 'Vida' and explored the legacy of Tejano singer Selena in 'Corpus.' But nothing she's done has been as wrenching as 'Señorita Extraviada…'"

Edward Guthmann San Francisco Chronicle

"'Señorita Extraviada' is further proof that she (Lourdes Portillo) is one of the most important filmmakers chronicling the Latino Experience today."

Mike McDaniel Houston Chronicle


Davis Stratton Variety

"Telling the tale mainly through the words of the victims' relatives and news footage, Portillo recounts what is a haunting story of corruption and injustice but also one of courage in the face of nearly insurmountable odds."

Minerva Canto The Orange County Register

"...a stunning portrait of the callousness, willful ignorance and sheer incompetence of police investigating a horrifying, nearly decade-long string of killings in Mexico."

Basem Boshra Montreal Gazette

”...a powerful film that bears witness to the humanity of the victims…and a powerful testament to the bravery of the women who have refused to be intimidated and have dared to speak out, organize and protest. 'Señorita Extraviada' is a cry of outrage and a call to activism.”

Marcia Gillespie Ms. Magazine

“Highly recommended for college, university and general adult collections…"

Karen Plummer Educational Media Reviews Online


  • Thessaloniki FF, FIPRESCI Award, Best Foreign Film
  • Barcelona Human Rights FF, Gold Gandhi Award
  • Cinequest - Audience Award for Best Doc.
  • Films De Femmes, Audience Award
  • HumanRightsWatch Intel.FF, Nestor Almendros Prize
  • IDA-nomination Distinguish Doc.Achievement Award
  • Malaga Film Festival - Grand Prize Best Doc.
  • Sundance Film Festival - Special Jury Prize
  • I.D.N.M.-Prix Tempete Radio, Best Feature Film
  • Academy of C.A.S.-Mx.- Ariel, Best Mexican Doc.
  • San Francisco International Film Festival
  • Toronto International Film Festival
  • Chicago International Film Festival
  • Halfway to Hollywood Film Festival
  • Torino Film Festival
  • Goteborg Film Festival
  • Pacific Film Archives Human Rights Watch International Film Festival
  • San Antonio Cinefestival
  • San Diego Latino Film Festival
  • Cleveland International Film Festival
  • Boston Women's Film Festival


Lourdes Portillo

Mexico-born and Chicana identified, Lourdes Portillo is a writer / director / producer of films focused on the search for Latino identity. She has worked in a richly varied range of forms, from television documentary to satirical video-film collage.

Portillo got her first filmmaking experience at the age of twenty-one when a friend in Hollywood asked her to help out on a documentary. Her formal training began several years later. An apprenticeship at the San Francisco NABET (National Association of Broadcast Engineers and Technicians) led to a job as Stephen Lighthill's first camera assistant on Cine Manifest's feature OVER, UNDER, SIDEWAYS, DOWN. In 1978, after graduating from The San Francisco Art Institute, Portillo used American Film Institute Independent Filmmaker Award monies to create her internationally praised narrative film AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE / DESPUES DEL TERREMOTO, about a Nicaraguan refugee living in San Francisco.

THE MOTHERS OF PLAZA DE MAYO, the result of a three year collaboration with writer / director Susana Munoz, was a pivotal film in Portillo's career. Its nomination for the Academy's Best Documentary in 1985 and the twenty other awards it received internationally earned Portillo the PBS funding she needed for her next film, LA OFRENDA: THE DAYS OF THE DEAD. Completed in 1989 and greeted with widespread critical acclaim, LA OFRENDA was Portillo's most serious attempt to date to challenge the notion that, as she says, "documentary is always associated with injustice." In it she portrays in loving color a Mexican and Chicano holiday -- the celebration of "the days of the dead" -- and initiates the dream-like structure that has become a hallmark of her recent work.

A grant from the NEA Inter-Arts program allowed Portillo to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's "discovery" of America in her own ironic fashion. Her 1993 film, COLUMBUS ON TRIAL showed at the London and Sundance Film festivals as well and was selected for the 1993 Whitney Museum Biennial. In 1994 she was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in recognition of her contributions to filmmaking. All of her work is widely shown in classrooms and academic circles and is integrated into curriculum studies.

Portillo’s films have screened at premiere cultural institutions and events around the world such as the Venice Biennale, Toronto International Film Festival, London Film Festival, the São Paulo International Film Festival, the Whitney Museum for American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and in the New Directors/New Films program presented by the Film Society at Lincoln Center and the New York Museum of Modern Art. She has been honored with over ten career retrospectives, including exhibitions at the Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art, the Cineteca Nacional de Mexico, the Pacific Film Archive, Museum of Modern Art New York, and Museum of Contemporary Art Buenos Aires. She is the subject of the critical anthology "Lourdes Portillo: The Devil Never Sleeps and Other Films" edited by Rosa Linda Fregoso (University of Texas Press, 2001) and the recipient of Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and multiple grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2016, she was honored with the distinguished Anonymous Was A Woman Award for her career artistic achievements. (03/19)


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