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Pedro Almodóvar: 1951—: Filmmaker - Escaped Abuse Through Films

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When he was eight years old, Almodóvar and his family moved to a small rural village in the cold mountainous region of Extremadura in Eastern Spain. There, under pressure from his mother, Almodóvar taught local children how to read. By ten, his intelligence had earned him a scholarship to an all boys Catholic school. It was much less than a blessing. At the school his spirit was dampened by the repressive moral strictures imposed by the church and his trust was broken by a priest who sexually abused him. He told Time that his Catholic education was "full of hypocrisy," concluding, "you can't learn by being terrorized." He found his escape at a movie theater not far from the school. "[There] I reconciliated myself with the world, my world," he is quoted on www.express.co.uk.

At a Glance . . .

Born September 25, 1951, Calzada de Calatrava, Spain; son of Antonio Almodóvar, a gas station attendant and Francisca Caballero, a homemaker. Religion: raised Catholic.


Career: Director, writer, and producer of films. Administrator, Telefonica, Madrid, Spain, 1970-1980; singer, Almodóvar and McNamara, 1980s; actor, Los Goliardos, 1980s; writer and columnist as Patty Diphusa, La Luna, 1980s.


Awards: Silver Toucan for the Best Director, Rio de Janeiro, 1987; New Generation Award Association of Critics of Los Angeles, 1987; Award of the Association of Theater Critics of New York, 1988; Orson Welles Award, Best Director, Foreign Language Film, 1989; Silver Ribbon Award, Best Director, Italy, 1989; David di Donatello Award, Best Director Rome, 1989; National Award of Cinematic Art, Spain, 1989; Best Director, Festival of Gramado, Brazil, 1992; César, France, 1993; the decoration of Arts and Humanities, French Ministry of Education and the Arts, 1995; Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts, Spanish Government, 1998; honorary César, France, 1999. Best Director, Cannes Film Festival, 1999; Best Movie of the Year, San Sebastian Film Festival, Spain, 1999; Best European Film of the Year, European Film Awards, 1999; Best European Director, European Film Awards, 1999; Golden Globe, Best Foreign Language Film, 2000; Seven Goyas, including the Premio Goya, Best Director, 2000; César, Best Foreign Language Film, France, 2000; Guldbagge Award, Best Foreign Language Film, Sweden, 2000; Academy Award, Best Foreign Language Film, 2000; BAFTA Award, Best Foreign Language Film, 2000; David Lean Award, Best Director, 2000; Premio Sant Jordi de Cinematografía, 2000; German Movie Award, Best Foreign-Language Film, 2000. Honorary Doctorate, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain, 2001.


Addresses: Home—Madrid, Spain. Office—El Deseo, SA, C/Francisco Navacerrado, 24, 28028, Madrid, Spain, (34) (91) 724-8199, eldeseo@eldeseo.es.

Barely seventeen, Almodóvar moved to Madrid on his own. He wanted to make movies, but it was 1968 and because Franco was still in power, Spain's official School of Cinematic Arts was shuttered. Almodóvar would have to learn filmmaking on his own. Without money, he settled for a variety of odd jobs from making crafts to selling used items at flea markets. When he landed an administrative position at the state-run telephone company, he finally earned enough money to buy a small Super 8 camera. During the day he was part of Spain's burgeoning middle class. According to his biography on www.almodovarlandia.com, this social class with "[i]ts dramas and its misery … was a goldmine," for Almodóvar's future works.

At night Almodóvar found another goldmine of inspiration in the Madrid movement of the early 1980s known as "la movida," literally the action. Almodóvar described that time to Newsweek International. "It was an explosion of life, the rebirth of joie de vivre, the younger generation seeking pleasure as its immediate objective, the legitimacy of all political choices and the loss of fear of the police." Almodóvar, the country boy from rural Spain, was at the center of the action. Wielding his Super 8 he made short films with titles like "Two Whores or a Love Story that ends in Marriage" and "Sex Comes, Sex Goes." These films reveled in sexuality—a complete antithesis to the repressive morality imposed by Franco. He also brought homosexuality, including his own, out of the closet and into the Spanish consciousness. When not filming, the prolific Almodóvar wrote a sham autobiography under the pseudonym Patty Diphusa, international porn star. In Spanish, patidifusa means "flabbergasted." He also performed in drag in a wildly popular underground punk band, acted with an avant garde theater group, and wrote screenplays that would later become his films.


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