Pedro Almodóvar - still excited about film

Pedro Almodóvar - still excited about film
By Euronews
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Spanish director Pedro Almódovar has made more than 19 films but says he still feels the same excitement about every project he undertakes and the same initial nerves. He says that with his latest film he wanted to take a trip back in time to his youth.

Euronews met him in Lyon where he was awarded the Lumiere prize at the festival of the same name.

María Piñeiro, euronews: “Pedro Almodóvar, throughout your career you’ve won some of the biggest prizes in cinema, you’re the best known Spanish director internationally, you have an honorary degree from Harvard and all your film premiers are big events. For many people you are a cult director. How do you feel about that label? At ease? A bit embarrassed?”

Pedro Almodóvar, film director: “Every time you get an award or a prize, it’s a huge joy. It’s someone saying they love you and for that you have to thank them. But when it’s all over, life goes on as normal. So I’m very grateful and I think I’ve been very lucky. I never dreamed of winning so many awards. But if the truth be told, when you start a new film, or confront the process of getting old, prizes don’t mean a thing. You always have to take on new challenges and that’s the most exciting thing. I’m just as excited as I was when I started directing making films and I also get the same nerves because you never know how a film will turn out or how the filming will go.”

euronews: “You have been an actor, and today you are a director, a screenwriter and a producer. So you control all aspects of the films you make. So are you surprised by the controversy they trigger or is that something you expect?”

Pedro Almodóvar: “I don’t exactly provoke controversy deliberately but I know that this is an expression of the freedom enjoyed by people who see my films. I don’t know in advance what the controversy will be but since it’s been happening since my very first film, I’m kind of used to it now and it doesn’t surprise me any more. But it’s not really the reaction I’m hoping for. Given the choice, I’d prefer some sort of complicity with the audience. The only thing I ask from people who don’t like my work or who have something to say against it is that they at least give me some sort of explanation because what I don’t like is when this type of criticism turns into a straightforward attack. But I am aware of what sort of cinema I make and I can’t pretend that everyone loves my films in the same way. People are all different and react in different ways.”

euronews: “You have said that you are more at ease with female characters, that through the role of the mother you could tackle all film genres…”

Pedro Almodóvar: “Yes, I think I said something like that.”

euronews: “Why do you have this special affinity with women? How do you manage to get into their world so easily?”

Pedro Almodóvar: “There’s no need to go to university or study something special to understand a woman. You just need eyes, ears and a little curiosity. But I think this affinity with the female world is because I was brought up by women. Of course, my mother had no money, it was just after the war. Children followed their mothers everywhere and when we weren’t with them we were with female neighbours. That’s why my earliest childhood memories are of being surrounded by women and I clearly remember listening to them talking, because for me, life was listening to their stories; and they were all genres: melodrama, horror, comedy, musicals… because all those things were going on all around us, right in front of a child of four years old who was just sitting there. I didn’t know that one day I would become a film director but I was already taking mental notes on everything that was going on around me.”

euronews: “You have also said that making comedies about men isn’t easy for you…”

Pedro Almodóvar: “It’s true. I think that being a man it’s harder to laugh or joke about my own circumstances than about women’s lives because with them I have a bit more distance. And anyway men are more of a dramatic, boring subject. Women have a much more spontaneous side and that’s great for comedy if you’ll excuse me saying so!”

euronews: “In recent years, we’ve seen more drama than comedy in your films. But that all changed with your last film ‘I’m So Excited’ which was an 80s style comedy in the same spirit as your first films. Was that a way of paying homage to that era? Why were you so nostalgic?”

Pedro Almodóvar: “I’m not really a nostalgic person but I think my memories of the 80s are accurate, true and objective, and that it was an era marked by an explosion of freedom, not only in cinema, but also in life, in the street, in nightlife, in daily life. You can’t compare that era with the current situation in Spain. The 80s were also years when I was training, that was when I made my first film ‘Pepi, Luci, Bom’ and that was the first decade of Spanish democracy; it was a decade of absolute celebration, it was very exciting and it was a decade during which I made more comedies than in any other decade of my 30 years in cinema. So my last film was in some way a homage to those key years for our society, because I think we’ve lost a lot of things we had back then and we need to get them back. And I think that without a doubt, that last film was a return to my youth, just for the duration of a film, because I’m afraid a real return would be much more difficult.”

euronews: “Your project about the victims of the Spanish dictatorship seems stuck in limbo…”

Pedro Almodóvar: “I’d like to make a film about the victims of Spain’s dictatorship and I do have a script but it’s not finished because often scripts stay on my desk for ages before being finished. After my next film, which won’t be this project, I might pick it up again. But as a citizen it’s a subject which interests me a lot and that’s why I’d like to introduce it into one of my films but to date I have not found the right way to do it. This subject is very important for people in Spain. You know how the transition from Franco’s Spain to democracy was made, there was an amnesty law, etc. But the Franco era crimes need reparation. It’s not just a matter of settling things, it’s simply about the fact that the grandson or the great grandson, because I don’t suppose the sons are still alive, it’s about giving these people a place to where they can honour their parents. It’s a purely humane question. And I think that as long as that’s not done, the post war period, is in some way still not finished.”

euronews: “What do you hope for in the future of cinema?”

Pedro Almodóvar: “For the future of cinema above all, I hope to see lots of people in the audience and in the coming years I hope that their curiosity about different types of cinema will increase, in all languages, sub-titled or dubbed, in all situations and all countries.”

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