SPANISH CINEMA SINCE 1983
The direction and look of Spanish cinema of recent decades has been transformed by the advent of regional cinemas and the emergence of a new generation of filmmakers who have once again reinvented a new Spain in their films. These developments occasioned new strategies of coproduction with state television and cofunding with foreign sources such as the European Community, gradually leading to a new dynamic in which Spanish cinema operates both globally and locally.
Though local in inspiration, regional cinema in Catalonia and the Basque country produced a series of films that often attracted a strong box office and critical acclaim throughout the country. Catalan cinema, which boasted a film production tradition that predated the civil war, achieved wide recognition through the films of three directors who developed strong national appeal. Camino became known for his historical drama Dragon rapide (1986). Ventura Pons's urban comedies set in Barcelona ( La rossa del bar [The Blond at the Bar, 1986] and El perquè de tot plegat [ What's It All About , 1995]) proposed a lighter view of contemporary Barcelona. But by far the most commercially successful of Catalan filmmakers was José Juan Bigas Luna (b. 1946), whose career began in the 1970s. His international hit Jamón, jamón (1992) introduced Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem to international audiences, and both have gone on to important careers.
With no prior industry to build upon, Basque cinema had to invent itself, which it did in the early post-Franco period with films such as Eloy de la Iglesia's El pico and El pico II (The Shoot and The Shoot II, 1983 and 1984, respectively), which combined themes of youth and drug culture against the backdrop of regional politics. Imanol Uribe's trilogy of films about the Basque terrorist group, ETA, and Montxo Armendáriz's ethnographic dramas ( Tasio , 27 horas [ 27 Hours , 1986], and Las cartas de Alou [ Letters From Alou , 1990]) garnered interest both within the Basque region and beyond. A younger Basque filmmaker more recently heralded at
home and abroad is Julio Medem (b. 1958). The stunning narrative and visual style of his films is characterized by eccentric points of view, most notably in his debut film, Vacas ( Cows , 1992), and Los amantes del círculo polar ( The Lovers of the Arctic Circle , 1999).
The impact of these new regional voices has been great. Yet, without question, the principal new face of Spanish cinema of the 1980s, 1990s, and beginning of the twenty-first century has been Pedro Almodóvar (b. 1949), who became a cult figure in the early 1980s with youth-oriented comedies that reflected the urban culture of Madrid in the early post-Franco period ( Pepi, Luci, Bom , Laberinto de pasiones [ Labyrinth of Passion , 1982]). With ¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto!! ( What Have I Done To Deserve This? , 1984) he began to be noted abroad. By the time his seventh feature, Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios ( Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown ), was nominated for an Oscar ® for best foreign film in 1988, Almodóvar had attained international celebrity status and his principal actors, Antonio Banderas and Carmen Maura, were developing their own international careers. Almodóvar's international success since Women on the Verge , which includes a best foreign film Oscar ® for Todo sobre mi madre ( All About My Mother , 1999), and an Oscar ® for best screenplay for Hable con ella ( Talk to Her , 2002), has ushered in a period in which Spanish cinema has finally achieved its promise of a cinema rooted both in contemporary national culture and the styles and themes of international film culture.
SEE ALSO National Cinema
Besas, Peter. Behind the Spanish Lens: Spanish Cinema Under Fascism and Democracy . Denver, CO: Arden Press, 1985.
Deveny, Thomas. Cain on Screen: Contemporary Spanish Cinema . Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1993.
D'Lugo, Marvin. Guide to the Cinema of Spain . Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997.
Evans, Peter William. Spanish Cinema: The Auteurist Tradition . Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Hopewell, John. Out of the Past: Spanish Cinema after Franco . London: British Film Institute, 1986.
Jordan, Barry, and Rikki Morgan-Tamosunas. Contemporary Spanish Cinema . Manchester, UK and New York: University of Manchester Press, 1998.
Kinder, Marsha. Blood Cinema: The Reconstruction of National Cinema in Spain . Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.
——, ed. Refiguring Spain: Cinema/Media/Representation . Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 1997.