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Born and raised in Costa Rica, Erika studied Mass Communication at the University of Costa Rica as well as Arts and Photography. Later on, she obtained her MFA in Film Production at Florida State University where she attended as a Fulbright International Fellow.

In 2008, she was invited by the Japanese Non-Profit Organization PEACE BOAT, to direct a documentary entitled “Flashes of Hope: Hibakusha Traveling the World”. The film shows a voyage where 102 atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki traveled around the world to promote nuclear disarmament.

The result was a one-hour documentary film which premiered in 2009 at the United Nations in New York City and was the first Costa Rican documentary ever released theatrically in that country.

This experience developed in Erika a strong passion for traveling that has has led her to visit over to over 35 countries.

In 2009, she finished a short fiction film entitled “The Hooker’s Son” which won 2nd place and Audience Award at the AXN Film Festival ($15,000 USD cash award) and was broadcast on cable television in Latin America to over 15 million people.

A year later she was selected as a 2010 TED Global Fellow and the Fulbright Association and U.S Embassy in Costa Rica selected her as the “Fulbrighter of the Year”. Other grantees include Mr. Luis Guillermo Solís, current President of Costa Rica.

In 2012 she wrote and directed the documentary “Gangs, Ninis and Thugs: An unofficial war” commissioned by the Oscar Arias Peace Foundation. It shows the threat of small arms in three of the most dangerous cities in Latin America.

Erika has also directed numerous television commercials for a variety of clients and agencies that include LOWE, BBDO and Y&R and has participated in many international film festivals with her work.

In 2014 she finished her debut narrative feature film as a Writer and Director, entitled “January 1st”. The film was shot in the Dominican Republic and played at several international film festivals. It was recently acquired for distribution by HBO.

In October of 2017 Erika will premiere her latest feature documentary “GIGI” in Costa Rican theaters. Currently, she’s working with a Los Angeles based studio on the development of a television series as well as on the development of “Seven Days, Seven Hours”, her first English language narrative feature film.

Erika Bagnarello

She is based in Los Angeles, California.

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Honors and Awards:

  • Winner of the Screenwriting Ruffieux Residency. Switzerland, 2016.
  • Latino Media Market Fellow, NALIP. 2016.
  • Nominated for the Yellow Robin Award, Curaçao International Film Festival Rotterdam, 2015.
  • Selected for 2013 Plume & Pellicule Screenwriting Workshop. Dreamago, Switzerland.
  • Selected for the 2012 Berlinale Talent Campus, Germany.
  • Producing Fellow at the 2011 Latino Producers Academy from HBO – NALIP.
  • Named Fulbrighter of the Year by the Fulbright Association in Costa Rica, 2010.
  • Winner of 2nd place and “Fan Favorite” category at the AXN Film Festival for The Hooker’s Son. (15,000 USD award and broadcast on cable AXN Latin America, 2010)
  • Selected as a 2010 TED Global Fellow (
  • Recipient of the Opening Doors Grant for Emerging Latina Filmmakers. New York Women in Film and Television Association and General Motors. 2007.
  • Recipient of Fulbright Scholarship 2004 – 2006. Florida State University.
  • Scholarship: Rutger Hauer Film Factory Masterclass, Rotterdam. 2007
  • Honorable Mention Student Director’s Guild of America Awards: Latino Category, Los Angeles, 2006.


  • Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival, 2015
  • Urbanworld Film Festival, NYC, 2015
  • Hollywood Film Festival, 2015
  • Curaçao International Film Festival Rotterdam, 2015
  • New York Peace Film Festival, 2011.
  • Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, 2007 and 2010.
  • Festival Icaro, 2010.
  • Costa Rica Film Festival, 2010.
  • International Latino Film Festival-San Francisco Bay Area 2007.
  • Palm Beach International Film Festival, 2007