Still from Song Without a Name, by Melina León '08

‘Song Without a Name’ by Alumna Melina León Becomes Peru’s Oscar Nominee

BY Felix van Kann, December 18, 2020

Song Without a Name (Canción sin Nombre), a feature film written and directed by alumna Melina León '08 has been nominated as Peru’s representative for the International Feature Film competition at the Academy Awards 2021. The film, which had its world premiere at the Directors' Fortnight section at the Cannes Film Festival and went on to collect great praise on the festival circuit, is looking to become only the country’s second Academy Award nominee in its history if selected by the Academy. In a recent interview with the filmmaker, León discussed her long journey of making the film.


Song Without a Name, set in Peru in the late 1980s at the height of the economic crisis and political upheaval, is shot in black and white and inspired by a real event. It follows a migrant musician from the Andes, whose newly born baby mysteriously disappears from a fake clinic. In the midst of total political chaos, Pedro Campos, a young journalist, opens an investigation and joins her in the desperate search.


Melina León is a Peruvian director based in NYC and Lima. She was the recipient of a 2015 Jerome Foundation Emerging Artist Production Grant to direct this film. Her previous short film El Paraíso de Lili (Lili’s Paradise) is also set in 1980s Lima. It officially premiered at the prestigious New York Film Festival and was selected at over 20 international film festivals, winning 11 awards, among them Best Latin American short film at the São Paulo International Short Film Festival. León grew up in Lima and moved to New York city in 2003 to study film directing at Columbia University. She currently works internationally as a director, producer, editor and teacher.


Song Without a Name is the third film by Columbia filmmakers to receive their country's nomination for next year’s Oscars. Previously, alumnus Jimmy Keyrouz '16 and his film Broken Keys had been selected as the contender for the Lebanon while I’m No Longer Here written and directed by alumni Fernando Frias de la Parra '15 and produced by Gerry Kim '11 will attempt to collect a nomination for Mexico. 


Still from Cancion Sin Nombre (Song Without a Name), written & directed by Melina León '08, image courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter