Marcela Gaviria

Marcela Gaviria is a journalist and filmmaker with Rain Media in New York City. Over the past two decades she has produced over 40 hours of programming for FRONTLINE (PBS), covering the rise of Al Qaeda, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the culture of risk-taking on Wall Street, America’s heroin epidemic, and the crackdown on undocumented immigrants under the Trump administration.

Gaviria has earned every award in broadcast journalism multiple times, including seven Emmys, three Peabodys, two duPont Columbia Gold Batons and one Silver Baton, four Writers Guild Awards, three Overseas Press Club Awards, a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the prestigious George Polk Award for investigative journalism.  

In 2019, Gaviria’s documentary on the detention of immigrant teens accused of gang affiliation, The Gang Crackdown, was one of six FRONTLINE films cited when the series received the 2019 duPont Columbia Gold Baton, the highest honor in broadcast journalism. Her 2018 film Separated: Children at the Border won a prestigious Peabody Award, which recognizes excellence in broadcasting and digital storytelling. Recently Gaviria produced Targeting El Paso, which focused on the children detained in the Clint Detention Center and looked at how El Paso became the Trump administration’s immigration policy testing ground.

Since 9/11, Gaviria has produced some of FRONTLINE’s seminal films on America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, including In Search of Al Qaeda (2002); Truth, War and Consequences (2003), Beyond Baghdad (2004), Private Warriors (2005), Gangs of Iraq (2007), The War Briefing (2008), Obama’s War (2009); and The Spy Who Quit (2009).  Truth, War and Consequences won a duPont Columbia Silver Baton and Obama’s War won the Overseas Press Club’s Edward R. Murrow Award.  

Gaviria first worked for FRONTLINE in 1994 on the production of Godfather of Cocaine, a film about the drug baron Pablo Escobar. After five years of freelancing from her native Colombia, she returned to FRONTLINE to work on the four-part series Drug Wars. That began a 20-year collaboration with veteran FRONTLINE producer/correspondent, Martin Smith, who has been Gaviria’s correspondent on multiple films including Chasing Heroin (2016); The Retirement Gamble (2013), The Pension Gamble (2018) and The Virus: What Went Wrong (2020). 

Gaviria is currently working on a two-hour documentary on the American war in Afghanistan to air in the fall of 2022.

Gaviria obtained her BA from Brown University and her MA from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. She lives in the Catskills with her producing partner and now husband, Martin Smith.

2h 44m
frontline america and the taliban documentary series
America and the Taliban
How America's 20-year war in Afghanistan culminated in Taliban victory.
April 4, 2023
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The Jihadist
Designated a terrorist by the United States, the powerful Syrian militant Abu Mohammad al-Jolani now seeks a new relationship with the West.
June 1, 2021
1h 24m
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The Virus: What Went Wrong?
As COVID-19 spread from Asia to the Middle East to Europe, why was the U.S. caught so unprepared?
June 16, 2020
Targeting El Paso
How El Paso became the Trump administration’s immigration policy testing ground and then the target of a white supremacist.
January 7, 2020
The Pension Gamble
How state governments and Wall Street led America’s public pensions into a multi-trillion-dollar hole.
October 23, 2018
Separated: Children at the Border
The inside story of what happened to immigrant children separated from their parents at the border.
July 31, 2018
The Gang Crackdown
FRONTLINE investigates how a slew of killings on Long Island linked to MS-13 led to a crackdown that has swept up immigrant teens.
February 13, 2018
A Subprime Education
FRONTLINE examines allegations of fraud and predatory behavior in the for-profit college industry.
September 13, 2016
1h 54m
Vermont Battles With Deadly Heroin Epidemic
Chasing Heroin
A searing, two-hour investigation of America's heroin crisis.
February 23, 2016
1h 23m
Firestone and the Warlord
What are the costs of doing business in a war zone? FRONTLINE and ProPublica investigate the relationship between Firestone and the infamous Liberian warlord Charles Taylor.
November 18, 2014
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Egypt in Crisis
FRONTLINE examines the rise and rapid fall of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
September 17, 2013
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The Retirement Gamble
Will your IRA or 401K accounts ensure a safe retirement?
April 23, 2013