How Spanish cinema hit the big time



With a Golden Bear for Spanish director Carla Simon and four compatriots nominated for Oscars, including superstars Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, Spanish cinema has now begun to captivate a global audience.

When Bardem and Cruz, who have been married for over a decade, were both tapped for Oscars, the 53-year-old actor could hardly contain his excitement.

“The fact that (Penelope’s) nomination was for a role in Spanish… seems really extraordinary, even historic in terms of the Spanish brand,” he said in February.

Unlike other countries with a long and distinguished history of cinema, Spain has struggled to establish itself on the international stage.

So far, Luis Bunuel has been the only Spanish director to win the coveted Palme D’Or at Cannes Film Festival for his provocative 1961 feature “Viridiana”. But all that is changing, with Spanish cinema increasingly recognised for its contribution to the silver screen, the most recent being Carla Simon’s triumph at this year’s Berlinale where she took the top prize for “Alcarras” (2022), a Catalan drama about peach farmers.

And according to Variety magazine, Cruz is rumoured to be in the running for president of the jury at Cannes, an honour already bestowed upon the legendary Pedro Almodovar, by far Spain’s best-known filmmaker.

Cruz herself is the only Spanish actress ever to win an Oscar, taking home the gong in 2009 for best supporting actress in the Woody Allen comedy “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”.

And if she wins best actress at the Oscars later this month for Almodovar’s “Parallel Mothers”, it will be a coup for a film entirely “Made in Spain”, whose soundtrack has also been nominated for best original score. —AFP


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