Filmmaker Gregory Nava is a director with an uncanny knack for capturing the epic drama of ordinary lives. Educated at the U.C.L.A. film school, Nava made an auspicious debut in the mid-'70s with Confessions of Amans. Filmed on a low budget with a script written by himself and his wife, Ann Thomas (also a filmmaker), it earned the Chicago International Film Festival Best First Feature Award in 1976. His 1983 film El Norte, a moving chronicle of Guatemalan Mayan Indians who leave the repression of their homeland to make new lives in California, earned him and Thomas an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Nava's 1995 film My Family/Mi Familia likewise impressed with its magical realism and seamless blend of pathos and comedy; like El Norte and the less successful Time of Destiny (1988), the film contains strong cultural themes that deal with the lives of an immigrant family trying to find their way in the U.S.