Miguel Zacarías

Miguel Zacarías
Born Miguel Zacarías Nogain
(1905-03-19)19 March 1905
Mexico City, Mexico
Died 20 April 2006(2006-04-20) (aged 101)
Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico
Occupation film director, film producer, screenwriter
Years active 1933—86

Miguel Zacarías Nogain (19 March 1905 20 April 2006) was a Mexican film director, producer, and writer.


Zacarías began directing for film in 1933. Even from his early career he developed a reputation for recognizing new acting talent; he promoted the careers of the some of Mexico's most notable actors including Pedro Armendáriz in Rosario (1935), María Félix,[1] Marga López, Esther Fernández, Pedro Infante, Tin Tan, Cantinflas, and Manuel Medel.

His 1961 film Juana Gallo was entered into the 2nd Moscow International Film Festival.[2] Zacarías directed his last film in 1986.

His granddaughter is playwright Karen Zacarias.

He died in his sleep at the age of 101 in Cuernavaca, Morelos, of heart failure.[3]


Miguel Zacarías was born to Elías Melhem Zacarías and María Nogain, who immigrated to Mexico in 1905 and soon thereafter received Mexican citizenship. His generally accepted birth year is 1905, although some sources show him being born in 1908.[3]

Zacarías attended primary school in Mexico City and secondary school (high school) in the United States. He traveled to Lebanon for university studies; while there he became fluent in French, Italian, and Arabic; he also immersed himself in French literature.

In 1927 Zacarías returned to Mexico City, and started a real-estate business. He had always been a fan of movies, and seeing the appearance of talkies at the end of 1927, he began looking for ways to enter the business himself. He submitted several screenplays without success, so he moved to the United States to pursue his dream. He studied directing, composition, photography, scenography and dramatic arts at Columbia University. He worked in New York City in Malcom Laboratories, where he made several significant acquaintances from the cinematic world.

Zacarías returned to Mexico in 1932 and with his brother founded the production company Latino Films. He produced, directed and edited Sobre las Olas. He then partnered with Juan Bustillo Oro and Fernando de Fuentes to found the production company Grovas y Diana Films.

His desire to improve the Mexican film industry drove him to become one of the most important talent scouts of the era. He gave their first opportunities to Manuel Medel, Pedro Armendáriz, María Félix, Jorge Negrete, Mario Moreno Cantinflas, Eulalio González Piporro, Pedro Infante, Libertad Lamarque, and others. He developed an efficient directing method - having the screenplays recorded beforehand, so he could quickly work with actors to improve their approach and technique. He worked with Emilio Azcárraga Vidaurreta, Mario Moreno Cantinflas and Howard Hughes to construct Los Estudios Churubusco.

During the 1950s, Zacarías began dedicating more time to producing films, leaving the directing to rising personalities including Gilberto Martínez Solares, René Cardona, Agustín P. Delgado, Miguel Morayta, and René Cardona Jr. By 1970 he was largely retired from actual filmmaking or producing.

Other works

In spite of his considerable cinematographic work, Zacarías always considered himself a writer. He produced some 130 novels, 250 short stories, 27 theatrical works, poetry, and essays touching on philosophy and politics. He wrote one ballet, La Princesa Europea.[3]

Honors and recognition

In 1993 Zacarías received the Gold Ariel award at the XXXV Ceremonia de Entrega del Ariel.

In 2001 he was given the Salvador Toscano Medal.[3]

Selected filmography





Zacarías was proud of Mexico, and worked tirelessly to bring its identity and heritage to public attention. The story is told of Zacarías that, while in Europe he heard a waltz being played, a creation of Mexican composer Juventino Rosas. When he suggested that it was a Mexican tune, he was told by his European friends, "Impossible - no Mexican could have composed that". Incensed, he returned to Mexico, wrote a novel based on the life of Rosas, and produced a movie bearing the title of a famous Rosas composition, Sobre las Olas (1934).

Zacarías made his movies with one overarching principle - to export and display the Mexican culture, the true spirit of the country.[3]


  1. "Mexico brings 'Mariela' out of playwright". Chicago Sun-Times. 4 February 2005. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  2. "2nd Moscow International Film Festival (1961)". MIFF. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Muere el cineasta Miguel Zacarías a los 101 años, Crónica (Mexico City), 21 April 2006
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