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Pedro Almodóvar Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (21)  | Personal Quotes (39)

Overview (3)

Born in Calzada de Calatrava, Ciudad Real, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain
Birth NamePedro Almodóvar Caballero
Height 5' 9¾" (1.77 m)

Mini Bio (1)

The most internationally acclaimed Spanish filmmaker since Luis Buñuel was born in a small town (Calzada de Calatrava) in the impoverished Spanish region of La Mancha. He arrived in Madrid in 1968, and survived by selling used items in the flea-market called El Rastro. Almodóvar couldn't study filmmaking because he didn't have the money to afford it. Besides, the filmmaking schools were closed in early 70s by Franco's government. Instead, he found a job in the Spanish phone company and saved his salary to buy a Super 8 camera. From 1972 to 1978, he devoted himself to make short films with the help of of his friends. The "premieres" of those early films were famous in the rapidly growing world of the Spanish counter-culture. In few years, Almodóvar became a star of "La Movida", the pop cultural movement of late 70s Madrid. His first feature film, Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls Like Mom (1980), was made in 16 mm and blown-up to 35 mm for public release. In 1987, he and his brother Agustín Almodóvar established their own production company: El Deseo, S. A. The "Almodóvar phenomenon" has reached all over the world, making his films very popular in many countries.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Maximiliano Maza <mmaza@campus.mty.itesm.mx>

Trade Mark (3)

Often uses symbolism and metaphorical techniques to portray circular storylines.
His films often portrays strong female characters and transsexuals
Uses only his last name for his "Film By" credit ("Un film de Almodóvar")

Trivia (21)

Mother Francisca Caballero and brother Agustín Almodóvar often appear in cameo roles in his movies.
Lead singer of the infamous music duo "Almodóvar & McNamara", a legendary bizarre project that personified the image of "la movida madrileña" during the early 1980s in Madrid. He appears in that role in his own film Labyrinth of Passion (1982) (a.k.a. "Labyrinth of Passion") wearing women's clothes and lots of black makeup.
Attended a Catholic boarding school in the 1960s where some of his fellow students were abused by priests. He asserts that he himself wasn't abused.
In the film Bad Education (2004), Almodóvar mix past and present, fiction and reality in a manner very similar to that used by writer Zlatko Topcic earlier in the hit film Remake (2003).
1992: Member of jury at the Cannes Film Festival.
Celebrity chef Rachael Ray is a big fan of his and named a chicken dish after him.
The Lady from Shanghai (1947) is one of his favourite films.
Favorite American actress is Meryl Streep.
Turned down an offer to direct Sister Act (1992).
Directed 2 actors in Oscar nominated performances: Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas.
New York, NY: Interviewed by journalist Lorne Manly as part of TimesTalks series at the New York TimesCenter building. [June 2013]
By his own admission, he usually starts writing his movies with a really important scene that ends up placed in the middle of the movie.
Le Doulos (1962) and Le Cercle Rouge (1970) are two of his favorite movies directed by Jean-Pierre Melville.
Often films rehearsals of his movies and includes them in the movie if he likes the scene better that the one shot during proper production. Especially in comedies, when the actors would improvise things, if something would happen unexpectedly, they would incorporate it into the scene.
Even though he doesn't watch TV, a lot of the main cast of 7 vidas (1999) have appeared on his movies: Blanca Portillo, Carmen Machi, Javier Cámara, Paz Vega, Guillermo Toledo, Leandro Rivera and Yolanda Ramos. Toni Cantó and Anabel Alonso have also worked with him, but before the show started.
Was approached to direct at some point both Brokeback Mountain (2005) and The Paperboy (2012).
Has expressed his desire to work with Marion Cotillard and Catherine Deneuve.
His favourite Spanish films are: Main Street (1956), It Happened in Broad Daylight (1958), The Executioner (1963), Aunt Tula (1964), Strange Voyage (1964), Peppermint Frappé (1967), Poachers (1975), Rapture (1979), El Sur (1983), Jamón, Jamón (1992), Thesis (1996), Blancanieves (2012) and Magical Girl (2014).
He was president of the jury at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.
Has been romantically involved with photographer Fernando Iglesias (I) since 2002, whom he frequently casts in small roles in his films.
Born on the 24th of September, his parents officially registered him the next day.

Personal Quotes (39)

All my movies have an autobiographical dimension, but that is indirectly, through the personages. In fact, I am behind everything that happens and that is said, but I am never talking about myself in first person singular. Something in me--probably a dislike of cheap exhibitionism--stops me from approaching a project too autobiographically.
Already when I was very young, I was a fabulador. I loved to give my own version of stories that everybody already knew. When I got out of a movie with my sisters, I retold them the whole story. In general they liked my version better than the one they had seen.
Cinema has become my life. I don't mean a parallel world, I mean my life itself. I sometimes have the impression that the daily reality is simply there to provide material for my next film.
[on his experience in the Catholic boarding school he lived in as a young man and on which Bad Education (2004) is based] The education we received was about guilt, sin, punishment.
[on why it took ten years to finish the script for Bad Education (2004)] [It] deals with my own biography . . . it took time to remove myself from it. Now it's not me. I changed the tone of the story, but the main situation is the same.
I do remember having extreme physical fear of the priests. One of the things we had to do was kiss the priest's hand, which I found revolting. The notorious abuser, who eventually had to leave, had this harem of about 20 boys.
I don't get involved with my actors. I don't get so involved with the films . . . If I lived like my characters, I would have been dead before I made 16 films.
Cinema can fill in the empty spaces of your life and your loneliness.
The characters in my films are assassins, rapists and so on, but I don't treat them as criminals, I talk about their humanity.
My first ambition was to be a writer. I have always been very interested in writing. But it seems to me that I have more capacity for telling a story with images. It seems I have more talent for filmmaking than for writing a novel, which is my dream. I have always found it easy to let my imagination go. You do not just need imagination for filmmaking, you also need a lot of passion. When I discovered filmmaking as a way of telling stories, I felt that I had found something that was in my nature. I am glad that I had this ambition to be a novelist because it has helped me in filmmaking.
In the last decade you can count the number of Hollywood dramas that have revolved around women. The studios have forgotten that women are fascinating.
[on Broken Embraces (2009)] I believe it is the most complex script I've ever written and during the writing of this film and also during the shoot, I did find myself in a different place. The way of making the film, the way of telling the story, the actors' tone and the way of editing was, you could say, a departure from some of my previous films. The film is much more balanced between the female characters and the male characters. This is also something new for me. I do feel that this film is a true declaration of love for cinema. I could almost say that cinema perfects all the irregularities, or the imperfections, of life.
[on Penélope Cruz] For me she's not exactly a muse, the person who inspires. She doesn't inspire me for stories but she inspired something very important which is confidence and that is very, very important work. But of course we can call her a muse in the sense that when I finish the first draft and I am thinking of the faces of the characters, I'm always looking for one that fits her or trying to adapt it for her, because I think there is a big chemistry between us. I think that when I work with Penelope now, I'm a better director, thanks to Penelope - and Penelope's probably a better actress thanks to me.
[on Luis Buñuel] We have the same roots, we belong to the same family and I really recognise myself in his films. For me, he is a real master.
I can get a lot of pleasure from a screening of Pink Flamingos (1972) by John Waters, and at the same time a Bergman movie, like Face to Face (1976) or Persona (1966). When I was a child, I remember very well that I saw a film by Michelangelo Antonioni. I was at school at the time, about 11 or 12, and I was deeply interested. But at the same time I saw silly pop movies that I liked too, because I was a child. I always combined these two tastes in my life.
[on Carmen Maura] If you divide the stages of my career and labelled them with the names of the people I've worked with, there's definitely a stage in my filmmaking that would be called The Carmen Maura Years, and those films were all in the 80s - although I did work with her again on Volver (2006). At the time, I felt she was absolutely the best vehicle I could find to tell my stories. She was the actress who had the best intuition, to connect with what I wanted from her. She could be very funny and very dramatic at the same time, so it was the perfect combination for me. Our relationship was absolutely perfect. We had this total communion, this osmosis, that went on, and due, probably, to that very intense and very fruitful engagement, it generated a number of personal problems that led to us having to stop working together. We were a filmmaking couple, but we faced all the issues - all the personal issues - that a normal couple faces. In that same period, through the 1980s up to 1990, the actor who best understood me and was able to play my parts was Antonio Banderas. Together with Carmen Maura.
I have been offered many projects in Hollywood, but I feel it's increasingly unlikely that I'll take them up. Because the way I work and the way they work over there are very different. I'm used to making up the story. I write it and direct it, or I adapt it if it's an adaptation, and so my filmmaking is very, very personal. I'm used to taking decisions and the criteria are my own. Of course, it's not a question of power - I do this in coordination with the entire team - but the ultimate criteria, the decision-making, is in my hands. And I feel that in Hollywood there are a whole number of people who take decisions prior to the director, and I feel that if I had to be listening to ten other people, all giving their opinion before I took a decision, it would lead to utter confusion.
I'm a big fan of David Lean. I think David Lean is the only example of a filmmaker who made super-productions that were auteur super-productions. They're extremely personal. And I don't think anyone's making films like that, and I really miss a personality like David Lean's in Hollywood.
[on Penélope Cruz] Penélope was born to be an actress. She is someone who is extremely emotional, and if she was not an actress it could be a problem for her. It's luck she has chosen a profession that allows her to express something that would be too much for a normal person. Otherwise she would suffer a lot. And even now maybe she suffers too much.
No one played the male characters I wrote in the 1980s better than Antonio Banderas. But in The Skin I Live In (2011), I didn't want to repeat what we had done before. I wanted to drain Antonio's face of all expression and emotion, which is difficult for an actor to do. But his disposition was exactly the same as it used to be, and he gave me the confidence to push forward. It was a great reunion.
[on being asked if The Skin I Live In (2011) is a horror movie] I myself am reluctant to label it that way. You have to be careful because to hardcore horror fans this will seem like a very strange movie, and I don't want to disappoint people. But in essence, yes, it is a horror film. There is a twenty minute sequence in the middle of the movie that definitely belongs to that genre - the revenge of a mad doctor that is so terrible that even though the film later segues into a melodrama and a thriller, that sequence remains in your mind and colors the rest of the film.
Artists have inspired me and inspired my characters, it gives them something to live... art's function is to help you survive, help you live.
My school and the cinema were only a few buildings apart on the same street. The bad education I received at school was rectified when I went to the cinema. My religion became the cinema. Of course one could create one's own belief system, and anything that helps or supports you in life can be seen as covering the function of religion. In that sense you could consider cinema my religion, because it is one of my major stimuli that I have for living. Cinema has that aspect of devotion to saints and idolatry as well. In that sense it is entirely religious.
I like to think I'm original... [although] I have been compared to both good and bad directors.
[on Julieta (2016)] I was looking for pure drama, not melodrama. I wanted more restraint. Nobody sings, no one talks about cinema and there's no humour. I had to force myself there; sometimes during rehearsals the odd comic line would come up, which was a relief for the actors. But after the rehearsals, I decided, no humour. I thought it was the best way to tell such a painful story.
[2016 interview] In the Eighties, we were celebrating a new sense of freedom and absolute possibilities. But when my films from the Eighties are screened on television, friends tell me I'd have far more problems making them today than I had back then. I don't like nostalgia as a feeling but it's true that tolerance, beauty, freedom are what defined the Eighties and it's not what defines this decade in Spain. The films I made at that time, I had no trouble making, nobody got offended, yet they're quite provocative. I don't think Dark Habits (1983) could be made today - it would have had a very radical and violent response from the religious establishment.
[2016 interview] Reality always filters through into my films, even when I try to reject it. It finds a crack to seep in through. The climate of the last four years in Spain has been of enormous unhappiness and even though I haven't personally suffered from the harshness of the economic situation, I'm surrounded by people who have. I don't think Julieta (2016) is a metaphor for Spain today but it's no accident that my 80s films were much happier.
[on El Sur (1983)] 96 minutes of emotions so intense that you're left breathless. I cry every time I watch it.
[from his Oscar acceptance speech for Talk to Her (2002)] I also want to dedicate this award to all the people that are raising their voices in favour of peace, respect of human rights, democracy and international legality, all of which are essential qualities to live. This award is also to them and to the Spanish cinema and to all you, because you are the witness of this wonderful moment of my life.
[speaking about BPM (Beats Per Minute) (2017) as president of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival after The Square (2017) won the Palme d'Or] I loved the movie. I cannot love more. I was touched since the very beginning till absolutely the end and after the end, but I don't know. Tomorrow, perhaps, we will read in the papers what the rest of the audience and journalists think. This is a very democratic jury. I am the ninth part of this jury. So this is the only thing that I can tell you. The huge majority of us loved the movie of Campillo. I'm sure it's going to be very successful everywhere. And I'm sure it's going to remind this country of something that happened here not so many years ago that, whether you belong to the LGBT, which I am, it was an injustice. Campillo tells the story of real heroes, that we saved many lives. We all agree with that.
[on Call Me by Your Name (2017)] Everything is beautiful, charming, and desirable in this movie: The boys, the girls, the breakfasts, the fruit, the cigarettes, the reservoirs, the bicycles, the open-air dancing, the 80s, the doubts and the devotion of the protagonists, the sincerity of all the characters, the relationship with their parents. Behold the commitment of the authors with the passion of the senses, the light of Northern Italy, and especially Timothée Chalamet, the great revelation of the year.
[press conference for Julieta (2016) at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival] I'm the son of Technicolor; the first movies that I remember when I was a child were in Technicolor with very bright, contrasted colours, so when I began to make films, I was trying to look for the same colour that you see in Technicolor, but of course that's impossible, just due to chemistry. And you know that my films can be somewhat baroque sometimes and of course I'm a child of the 60s, so my training is in Pop Art - all of this led to a certain exaggerated use of colour in my films. And this is the answer I always give because I think that's what best explains my use of colour. When I was doing Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), I realised that my mother had dressed in black because she was in mourning, which of course tradition obliges you to wear black, and she was doing so from when she was three years old and when she conceived me she was wearing black, at that moment when she conceived me - of course I only found this out indirectly later on. So the fact that I was actually conceived by someone wearing that colour - my mother - gestation happened giving some sort of answer of rage against that horrible tradition that black has; because black is something we see a lot here on the red carpet; it's a wonderful, glamorous, sophisticated colour, except when it's imposed on someone from the time you're a child - in that respect it's actually a curse.
[Cannes press conference for Julieta (2016)] Once again I think I've come back to a place, a place that I'll never leave altogether, which is the universe of women, the feminine universe. I've done lots of movies about mothers but I believe this mother, the mother of this movie, Julieta, if we compare her with other mothers, she's the most vulnerable mother, the weakest, with the least capacity to fight. She resists passively and with desperation, if that's actually possible for something like that to exist. If we compare her to all the other mothers from my films, who are all powerful women with an ability to struggle which seems above-human. But Julieta, in thinking about her character as a scriptwriter, I turn her into the victim of losses that happen throughout her life that begin to sap her power as a person. And of course in the very last scenes, interpreted by Emma Suárez, she's almost like a zombie that walks through the streets, without any particular direction and without hope.
[Cannes press conference for Julieta (2016)] I feel identified with all of the characters in my films, for the best and for the worst - they all represent me in one way or another. I've made 20 films, so Julieta is very different from The Skin I Live In (2011), for example, which is very different from Broken Embraces (2009). Those films are very different from Julieta but amongst them they're like 20 different steps that all represent me. I have never written any sort of autobiography and I've never let any of the publishing houses write any biographical books about me and that will be my will as well - that no one's allowed to write any biographies - I do not want either authorised or unauthorised biographies about me and those of you please who are the journalists of the future: please don't let anyone do a biopic about me. I would really ask you please to promise me that right now! And also pass on the message to future generations that my life is in these 20 films. I could speak about all the aspects of my life based on moments and scenes from these films.
[Cannes press conference for Julieta (2016)] For me, the passage of time......it's not that I feel like an old man, but I'm getting there, and I agree with what Phil Roth said: age is not an illness, but rather it's a massacre - that's how I kind of experience the passage of time right now. I never would have been able to make this film before now, where I'm 60-something years old. Even if I had tried to make a film based on the same short stories, I think that film earlier would have been very, very different. I'm not a nostalgic person but I very much miss my youth and I miss those years of my youth, which I'm sure you're familiar with as well, the 80s - I miss the 80s. There was a point at which I had to make a choice for health which is a bit boring - choosing health is boring - but it's necessary if you want to keep working, but it's a sad decision as well. And I think that feeling can be found in the works that I'm creating now in this decade of my life.
I was never the son my parents wanted. I mean, I think that they really loved me. But it's something I realised from a very young age. I was born in 1949 and La Mancha was highly conservative, extremely backward. My parents were effectively living in the 19th century and they gave birth to a son who was almost like a 21st-century child. So there was a massive gap between their expectations and mine. They wanted me to stay in the village, get married, get a job in a bank. In fact, they did find me a job in a bank and I turned it down. I just hated village life. I was horrified by it, even when I was little. So much inbreeding. Everyone looking inwards and at each other. The only thing that mattered was what your neighbours were doing and what they thought of you. So for me it was hell. All I wanted to do was get out, run away.
[2002 interview] I think it's a change that I did not intend at the time but it is clear that, from The Flower of My Secret (1995) on, there is a change in my films. A lot of the journalists have very generously attributed this to my growing maturity. But, although these films express many similar ideas from my previous films, I think they express these ideas in a different way. The 1980s really ended for me in 1992 with the film Kika (1993). I think that I had become very saturated by everything that I had done in the 80s. I think, on one level, the change is aesthetic. The colours are not so explosive. I think that the narrative tone also darkens but, for me, becomes more transparent. I think the humour is not as present as it was - at least in not such an evident way. I think my concern in portraying emotions becomes much more evident. I think that, to a certain extent, these are the things that happen to you when you cross that barrier into your forties. I think that, even if I am dealing with similar issues, a film like All About My Mother (1999), which does have these recurring themes, would have been impossible to make if I had not made the films before.
In my movies I didn't think about my childhood until I was more than 50. The first time that I really go back and see my childhood as the origin of fiction was in Bad Education (2004) when I was thinking about sexual harassment in school which was incredibly common in the Catholic college. And for some reason I was old enough to look back. In Bad Education I put the worst of my memories and immediately with Volver (2006) I included the more joyful part.
[press conference for Pain and Glory (2019) at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival] In the film glory is obvious because in spite of all his pains, this character lives in a beautiful flat surrounded by works of art, so I wanted also to say that the pain this man suffers has nothing to do with the pain that's felt by many people. Even what the doctor says, that many people suffer more than you do - it's relative. The glory of the character is represented by the place where he lives, which tells us that he's had a much more luminous life than he's experiencing just now. Can glory be an obstacle? Of course - it depends what you have on your mind and one's needs. For me my ambition has been always to tell stories, to make films and to make them in the most personal way, that it would be in my little state of mind - the state of mind is tiny, but it's mine. And that's very risky and you have to accept it. For me, the definition of success is that I've been able to make the films I wanted to make and the mistakes that I made are mine - I can acknowledge them and there are not other people responsible for them. So I'm the master of my own career - that's for me the definition of success. You have to be very careful about all the rest and not to lose your mind and be grounded. Yesterday, we had a wonderful night, which doesn't mean anything more or anything less - we just enjoyed that wonderful night. But the problems I have in my life are the same I had before experiencing last night, so you have to keep your feet on the ground - all the more so when you have a night as glorious as we had last night.

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