A Latino filmmaker with a gift for portraying off-kilter behavior in all shapes and ethnicities, Miguel Arteta emerged as one of the Sundance Film Festival's success stories in the late '90s.
Born in Puerto Rico to a Peruvian father and Spanish mother, Arteta grew up all over Latin America due to his father's itinerant existence as a Chrysler auto parts salesman. After he was kicked out of school in Costa Rica, Arteta was taken in by his sister in Boston, where he discovered filmmaking at a local high school for the arts. His aesthetic tastes out of step with their cinema verité ethos, Arteta left Harvard University's documentary program to study film at Wesleyan, where he met future collaborators Matthew Greenfield and Mike White. After he graduated in 1989, Arteta's musical short Every Day Is a Beautiful Day was nominated for a Student Academy Award in 1990. After it was shown to Jonathan Demme, Demme hired Arteta to work on his documentary Cousin Bobby (1991) and recommended Arteta for admission to AFI's graduate film program. He earned his M.F.A. in 1993.