Freelance Spain
Spaniards for the 21st century

Pedro Almodóvar
Oscar-winning Spanish film director

Pedro Almodóvar was born September 25, 1951 in Cazalda de Calatrava, a small village of the province of Ciudad Real, in Spain's parched central plateau, La Mancha. His father was a gas station attendant. When he was eight, the family moved to the town of Cáceres, in western Spain, where he studied at a school run by Salesian priests.

Moving to Madrid at age 18, the country boy quickly blended in with the Spanish capital's underground culture. He got an office job at Spain's telephone company, but there was no doubt of his real metier. He drew comics and wrote articles for fringe newspapers, he performed in alternative theater groups, he dressed in drag to appear on stage in nightclubs, and he started making short movies with a Super 8 camera. He came into contact with some of the key figures who would shape Madrid's "Movida" - a short but intense outburst of optimism and creative frenzy - such as the underground cult singer Alaska and the actress, Carmen Maura.

Finally he managed to scrape together enough funding for his first full-length feature film, Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón, released in 1980, which already had the unmistakable Almodóvar stamp of hilariously complicated plots, wild-paced slapstick, outrageous fringe characters and iconoclastic spirit.

That was followed by Laberinto de Pasiones ("Labyrinth of Passions", '82); Entre Tinieblas ("Dark Habits", '83) and his first big hit, ¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto? ("What have I done to deserve this?"), starring Carmen Maura and released in 1985. By then, Almodóvar's position as the leading figure in Spain's new generation of film-makers was secured. He was instrumental in furthering the careers of some of Spain's new batch of actors, including Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas, whose first  film appearance was a minor part in Labyrinth of Passions (he would later appear in four more Almodóvar movies).

International critics had already started to take notice of Almodóvar with What Have I Done...?, but world-wide recognition would come with his Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, which in 1989 was nominated for the Academy Awards for best non-English language film (the Oscar eventually went to the Danish film, Pelle the Conqueror).

Almodóvar won the Oscar with his acclaimed Todo Sobre Mi Madre ("All About My Mother"), chosen as Best Foreign Film in the March 2000 edition of the Academy Awards. All About... is populated by Almodóvar's typical impossibly wacky characters, but the fresh slapstick mayhem of his earlier films is replaced by more mature, dead-pan humor.

After the success with All about my mother Almodóvar premiered "Hable con ella" (" Talk to her"), obtaining the Academy Prize for best hyphen and a nomination to best director. His last movie is "The Bad Education", a history on a loving triangle that develops in a school of priests during the pro-franco dictatorship. Is starred by Fele Martínez and the Mexican Gael Garcia Bernal.

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Other Almodóvar films:
Matador, '85
La Ley del Deseo (Law of Desire), '86
Atame (Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down), '89
Tacones Altos (High Heels), '91
Kika, '93
La Flor de Mi Secreto (The Flower of My Secret), '95
Carne Trémula (Live Flesh), '97

  

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