Lourdes Portillo, the maverick filmmaker of Chicano and LGBTQ cinema who received an Oscar nomination for her documentary Las Madres: The Mothers of Plaza De Mayo, died on Saturday at her home in San Francisco. She was 80.

For over four decades, the Mexican-born and Los Angeles–raised writer, director, producer and social activist crafted nuanced film and video works that centered the emotions and circumstances of diverse Latinx experiences. Born on November 11, 1943, in Chihuahua, Mexico, Portillo emigrated with her family to the United States when she was a teenager. In the '70s, she moved to San Francisco to officially begin her filmmaking career, first as a part of the Marxist collective called Cine Manifest, and then as a student at the San Francisco Art Institute, where she received formal training.

"That was the beginning of thinking that I could make films that could actually move people to do something that would be good for everybody," Portillo told A.frame in an interview last year. "For me, I think that the art that I do is in the service of helping people. That's my concern, really."

'Las Madres: Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo' (1985).

With her feature debut, 1985's The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, about the mothers of Argentina's desaparecidos, Portillo established herself as a major global filmmaking voice. The film was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 58th Oscars, which Portillo shared with co-director Susana Blaustein Muñoz.

As scholar Rosa-Linda Fregoso writes, "Portillo's stylistic signature is [a] defiance of categories and borders" — which she continued to explore through her films The Days of the Dead (1989), The Devil Never Sleeps (1994), and Corpus: A Home Movie for Selena (1999).

In May of 2023, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures opened a gallery experience devoted to Portillo's life and career. At the time, Portillo was working on a project, Looking at Ourselves, with the filmmaker Guillermo Gómez-Peña. Even before her death, the filmmaker called it her final film.

"The conclusion is this: That the retelling of our lives, the recounting of our lives, the revival of our memories is our work of art," Portillo told A.frame. "We have to accept [that] we're mortal. I'm almost 80 years old, so I think about it as the end. And I feel that I just want to leave the message to young people: 'Don't forget what you live through, and tell it to other people.' That's my ultimate message."

Portillo is survived by her three sons, Carlos, Karim and Antonio Scarlata, and her five grandchildren.

READ MORE: Lourdes Portillo Reflects on 40 Years of Activism, Filmmaking and Her 'Ultimate Message' (Exclusive)