Private Project

Exiliada (Exiled)

She accused the leader of the Sandinista revolution of sexual abuse. Now he is president of Nicaragua and she lives in exile.

  • Leonor Zúniga
  • Chris Renteria
    Whose Streets? 2017, STL Superman 2019, Ratify 2020, Chain of Rocks 2020
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
    political, human rights
  • Runtime:
    24 minutes 33 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 1, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    50,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Costa Rica
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Hot Docs
    April 26, 2019
Director Biography - Leonor Zúniga

Leonor Zúniga is a Sociologist, activist and Documentary Filmmaker, author of several publications on the field of media and democracy in Nicaragua. She holds a bachelor degree in Sociology from Universidad Centro Americana, a Master in Fine Arts in Documentary Film and Video from Stanford University and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship.

Leonor has worked on several documentaries: she was the executive producer of the feature Documentary Graduation Dreams (2016), and has Directed the short films, Docktown (2016), Trees of Life (2016) and Exiled (2017), a thesis film which was selected as semifinalist at the Student Oscars. She is co-founder and Creative Director of CaLe Producciones (2010-Today), a Nicaraguan production company which seeks to promote social change.

She recently became co-owner and producer of Cinema Regional, a production company that promotes the professionalization of the film industry in Nicaragua and the Central American Region. She was a speaker at TedxManagua 2013.

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Director Statement

It took me six months of endless conversations with my partner before deciding to make a film about Zoilamérica. It was not an easy decision. Her story is one of the most sensitive issues facing her adoptive father, Daniel Ortega, the president of Nicaragua and and her mother, Rosario Murillo the vice president.

For most of the Nicaraguan media, Zoilamérica’s story is one the biggest political scandals of the last few decades. For me, however, it is also the story of hundreds of women who dare to speak up to demand justice and, in turn, are punished, silenced or ignored by their families, their church or their party. For this reason, I decided to tell her story from her point of view, to show how the public aspects of the conflict with her family affects her personal life.


As I filmed, it was evident that Zoilamérica’s pain became more intense as she spoke of her mother’s attempt not only to hide the abuse, but to turn the blame on her, something not uncommon in Nicaraguan society. This is the tragedy of the silence surrounding sexual abuse: it destroys the family. In Nicaragua sexual abuse is an epidemic spread by silence and impunity.

While I was completing post-production on the film, Nicaragua was rocked by the worst political and humanitarian crisis of the last thirty years. Thousands of Nicaraguan demanded the resignation of Ortega and Murillo and the government response was brutal. In 4 months, over 350 people died and tens of thousand of Nicaraguans were forced into exile, including me.

I hope this film will shed light on the role of family in cases of sexual abuse. It is a tribute to women who, despite profound pain, show tremendous resilience and determination as they fight to recover their lives and their families. This film also changed me. After my conversations with Zoilamérica, I finally told my mother that as a kid I was sexually abused by a neighbor.

This film is for all of us.