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The Space Race


Lisa Cortés, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza

Executive Producers

Frank Marshall, Leland Melvin, Tony Rosenthal, Carolyn Bernstein


Keero Birla, Alexandra Bowen, Aly Parker, Mark Monroe


Robert A. Martinez


The Space Race weaves together the stories of Black astronauts seeking to break the bonds of social injustice to reach for the stars, including Guion Bluford, Ed Dwight, Charles Bolden, and Leland Melvin among many others. Directors Lisa Cortés and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza address the racial injustice within NASA across several decades. The film follows pioneers who fought to overcome not just the obstacles of their astronaut training but also the challenges that stemmed from the racial prejudice and discrimination present at the time. The Space Race highlights how their perseverance challenged the definition of “the right stuff,” even when their stories were omitted from the history books.


Courtesy of National Geographic Documentary Films

Co-Director, The Space Race

Award-winning director Lisa Cortés foments bold, explosive art that gives voice to the silenced and shunned. From helping launch the revolutionary artists RUN-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys, to executive-producing the Academy Award®-winning film, Precious, Lisa sparks cultural change through works of unrivaled excellence.


Little Richard: I Am Everything (CNN Films), which she directed and produced, had its world premiere as the opening night selection in the US documentary competition at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, where it was acquired by Magnolia Films. Also premiering at Sundance was Invisible Beauty, the documentary about Black fashion industry pioneer Bethann Hardison, which she produced.


In 2020, Cortés directed and produced All In: The Fight For Democracy, tracing the violent history of the voting rights struggle. Emmy-winning HBO documentary, The Apollo, (2019) which Cortés produced, explores African American cultural and political history through the story of the legendary Apollo Theater. Cortés executive produced Precious (2009) which was nominated for six Academy Awards® and won two. The film received the Sundance Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize for best drama. Her film productions have received over 80 international awards and nominations.

Co-Director, The Space Race

Diego Hurtado de Mendoza is an award-winning producer and director known for pairing historically relevant issues with a contemporary visual language that invites new audiences to revisit their past. He started his career in filmmaking as a writer and director on documentaries around the world for FABRICA –the Research Center of Benetton founded by Oliviero Toscani. He documented the creation of a country in Branding Kosovo and the relationship of cinema and war in Welcome to Beirut, and more recently a film on the Cuban revolution. He directed commercials for Ford, Nivea, MTV, Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores de España and collaborated in projects with Vice, Vogue, MTV, and for the National Ballet of Spain.