Karla Vargas Gastélum
Writer / Director
Directing MFA Alumna of UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television
Karla Vargas Gastélum (she/they) is a Mexican-American, queer, film Writer/Director based in Los Angeles, California.
She earned her B.A. in Visual Arts at UC San Diego in 2016. In 2017, Karla was one of twenty directors admitted into the competitive Directing MFA program at the UCLA School of Film, Theater & Television.
During their time at UCLA, Karla was awarded the Banky-Larocque fellowship: a four year full-ride scholarship sponsored by Donna Deitch. She was also the recipient of the UCOP Fellowship; the Carl David Memorial Fellowship in Film; the Four Sisters Scholarship in Screenwriting, Directing and Animation; and the Lynn Weston Fellowship in Film. Additionally, she was a Hispanic Scholarship Foundation Scholar in 2017 and 2018.
Karla wrote and directed four shorts at UCLA and earned their Master of Fine Arts in Directing in 2021.
Born in Baja California, Mexico, Karla moved to the United States at age eleven to have a chance at obtaining higher education. From an early age, her work as a studio artist reflected her commitment to tell stories that promote social change. As an undocumented, Queer, Latinx person, she never saw herself represented in media: this lack of representation and diversity pushed them in the direction of film.
The political climate surrounding immigration influenced her two most recent films: Americano and Parhelio. Both films bring to the foreground different struggles of living as a Latinx person in the United States. Americano made the Official Selection at OUTFEST LA 2019; screening along the feature film, José.
Karla is currently working on her first feature, Chasing Lotus. The story follows a young boxer who while preparing for her first title fight is forced to come to terms with her trauma as she becomes triggered by her childhood molester’s induction into the Boxing Hall of Fame.
OUTFEST LA Official Selection
Lynn Weston Fellowship in Film
2020 Thesis Award. University of California, Los Angeles
Four Sisters Scholarship in Screenwriting, Directing and Animation
2020 University of California, Los Angeles
Carl David Memorial Fellowship in Film
2019 UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television
Banky Larocque Foundation Fellowship
2017-2020 UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television
Hispanic Scholarship Foundation Scholar
2017-2018 Hispanic Scholarship Fund
UCOP Presidential Fellowship
2017 & 2019 University of California, Los Angeles
2016 Up & Coming Filmatic Film Festival. Cinematographer
2016 Up & Coming Filmatic Film Festival. Writer/Director