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Pedro Almodovar

Pedro Almodovar has been nominated for Talk to Her. It explores the inter-personal relationships between four characters, involving two men and their girlfriends.

india Updated: Mar 21, 2003 18:37 IST

He is a man of many awards and numerous accolades. Writer, director, composer, producer, and at times even actor, Pedro Almodovar can be considered nothing less than a renaissance man in the truest sense of the term.

Raising himself by his own proverbial bootstraps, he managed to ascend from the relative squalor of the impoverished Spanish region of La Mancha, to a comfortable position in administration for a phone company in Madrid. Not content with this, he then strove to transcend the bourgeois mentality of the Madrid middle-class, and in doing so, achieved the lofty status as one of Spain's most celebrated filmmakers.

Born on September 24, 1951 in Calzada de Calatrava, Ciudad Real, Spain, Almodovar and his family lived in poverty. His newly realized ambition to attend film school was first thwarted financially, then by the fascist Franco government, who closed the film academy. Undaunted, he saved enough cash to procure a Super 8 camera and from 1972 until 1978 filmed a number of movie shorts.

The showing of these underground shorts soon became a celebrated event among those within the burgeoning Spanish counter-culture. After Franco's death in 1975, and Spain's subsequent return to democracy, government censorship of the arts loosened enough for Almodovar to begin his ascent as a true auteur.

By the late 70's he had become the toast of Madrid's pop movement La Movida, and in 1980 his first feature length motion picture Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón (Pepi, Luci, Bom…) was released (but not before being transferred from 16 mm to 35 mm film). A motion picture full of corrupt authorities, rape, sadism and questionable morality, it is impossible to imagine its steamroller, slap-in-the-face mentality being released during the Franco dictatorship, but as is the case with most visionaries, Almodovar found himself in the right place at the right time.

Following the film's success, Almodovar wrote, produced, directed, composed the music for, acted in and even served as set designer for his 1982 release Laberinto de Pasiones (Labyrinth of Passion). This must have been more responsibility than even he desired, for afterwards, he pared down his hands-on role to primarily that of writer/director.

He has gone on to release 12 more films, including, but not limited to: What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984), Matador (1985), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989), and Kika (1993).

His motion pictures are wildly melodramatic, boldly hued and filled with many unique oddballs, all which lend an air of surrealism to the proceedings. Although his critics claim that his use of sex and violence verge on the gratuitous, the deeper underlying themes that he presents cannot be denied.

His collaboration with Antonio Banderas is also legendary. Banderas was an early Almodovar favourite, as the two worked on several films together. Banderas perfected his craft under Almodovar's tutelage before taking Hollywood by storm. The two have spoken of further collaborations, but as of yet have not followed up upon them.

In 1987, Almodovar and his brother Agustin established their own production company. Almodovar often supplies cameo roles for Augustin and their mother, Francisca Caballero. His films have accumulated various international awards, including British Academy Award for best foreign film with Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

His latest release, All About My Mother (1999), was well received at the Cannes Film Festival – where it garnered rave reviews and a best director award. It went on to win the award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2000 Oscars.

His latest work, The Paperboy, is currently under production and slated for release later this year.

Select Filmography
Talk to Her (2002)
All About My Mother (1999)
Live Flesh (1997)
The Flower of My Secret (1995)
Kika (1994)

First Published: Mar 21, 2003 14:14 IST