Variety highlights 10 Spanish women who are rising in the film biz:

Ana Asensio
New York-based Spanish actress Asensio (“The Afterlight”) recently dazzled with her directorial debut “Most Beautiful Island,” a winner at SXSW. She wrote and starred in it, and based it on her own experiences in New York. Currently penning her sophomore feature — a psychological thriller — Asensio likes “exploring human behavior in extreme or challenging situations where responses are more instinctual and primitive than rational,” she says.

Fernanda del Nido

Based at Setembro Films in Barcelona, Del Nido leaped into the limelight co-producing Pablo Larrain’s “Neruda,” Sebastián Lelio’s “A Fantastic Woman” and, before that, Julio Hernández Cordón’s “Dust.” She is developing “After the Storks” with the Netherlands’ PRPL and Belgium’s Savage Film, with Joost Van Ginkel directing. “I want to make difficult-to-pigeonhole cinema with a clear director’s vision that sticks in the memory,” she says.

María Elorza, Maider Fernández Iriarte
Also known as “the Palsaik Girls,” Basque-born Elorza and Fernández make documentaries, such as ”Our Walls” and “August Without You,” that conceal a poetic complexity. “Our biggest desire is to help people recoup their personal memory, without imposing our viewpoint,” Fernández says. She is working on a English project, “Jordi’s Letters,” exploring “love of God and the speech of a free man.”

Laura Ferrés
A Spanish Critics’ Week entry, Ferrés’ short, “The Disinherited,” depicts the director’s father reluctantly facing the end of the family business. Ferrés’ first work “The Doghouse” was awarded at Montreal, Athens and Spain’s Valladolid fest. She works “with both real characters and elements, shaping them at will using fiction strategies to create a better truth. Visually speaking, the fewer ingredients the better, like a haiku,” she says.

Isabel Herguera
Lleida animation fest Animac director until 2011 Herguera is developing “Sultana’s Dream,” a toon/live-action feature inspired by a classic feminist tale by Bengali social activist Begum Rokeya published in in 1905. Dystopian “Dream” takes place in a women-ruled city where men live in confinement. “I like films with no definitive answers, taking formal and story-telling risks and challenging spectators’ fantasies and intelligence,” Herguera says.

Rocío Mesa
An underground example of the diaspora driven by Spain’s economic downturn, L.A.-based writer-director Mesa also runs L.A. OLA, a Spanish Contemporary Cinema Showcase. Her first documentary feature, “Orensanz,” was selected for Seville and Buenos Aires’ Bafici. Mesa is preparing Olmo Figueredo’s La Claqueta-produced “Tobacco Burns,” a rural drama portraying “three generations in very intimate connection with natural scenery.”

María Pérez

Cáceres-born Pérez’s latest work, “Exercise II: Fiction” won at short fest Jameson Notodofilmfest. Pérez’s debut, “Malpartida Fluxus Village,” took best feature honors at France’s Perpignan festival. Pérez is working on “Karen,” about the last days of Danish baroness Karen Blixen, author of “Out of Africa.” Ignacio Salazar-Simpson (Rodrigo Cortés’ “The Contestant”) at Red Ant Films produces.

Nely Reguera
Reguera surprised international audiences with her debut “Maria (and the Others),” which snagged best film at Miami’s HBO Ibero-American Competition. She is interested in “cinema exploring the human being and their miseries with honesty and humor,” Reguera says. She’s writing a screenplay about our capacity to love.

Celia Rico
Rico’s latest short “Luisa Is Not Home” participated at Venice Horizons’ YouTube Award and Cannes Short Film Corner. Her first feature film, the Arcadia Motion Pictures-produced “Journey Around a Mother’s Room,” was selected at Berlinale Talents, and concerns an emotional trip: “a mother-daughter one. As Yasujiro Ozu said, life’s tragedy begins with parent-child emotional ties,” she says.

Beatriz Sanchis
Her debut, “They All Are Dead,” took a Special Jury Award at Málaga Fest. Mexico-based Sanchis is working on her sophomore outing, “Where the Summer Went?” co-penned with Gibran Portela and produced by Inna Payán at Mexico’s Animal de Luz Films. With Jim Jarmusch and Wim Wenders as inspirations and road-motels and the Mexico-U.S. frontier as a background, “Summer” offers a “road-movie towards something unreachable, which is already gone,” she says.