Cult helmer readies two pics for Spanish actress

BERLIN — Penelope Cruz will topline the next film by Pedro Almodovar. The Spanish-lingo film will shoot in Spain over the summer. Just what it will be is another question, however.

Currently, there are two candidates, producer and brother Agustin Almodovar told Daily Variety: “Volver,” (literally, “Return”), a generational comedy about three women who travel from Spain’s south to Madrid seeking a better life and greater freedoms; and “La tempestad sonada” (literally, “Dreamt Storm”), a lyrical drama.

Pedro Almodovar has reserved roles for Cruz in both films, he added. Cruz’s European agent, Katrina Bayonas, confirmed that Cruz had cleared dates over the summer and was up for either film.

Cruz took a secondary role in Almodovar’s “Todo sobre mi madre” (All About My Mother), playing a do-gooding pregnant nun. Almodovar has the habit of developing a clutch of projects — he had four in development last summer, including a longtime Cruz/Banderas meller, “Tarantula” — until he takes the gut decision to shoot one.

That’s a freedom which the Almodovars have carved out over the years, since they launched their prodco, El Deseo, nearly two decades ago, by making relatively economical films which do not depend on pre-sales to go into production.

The Almodovar-Cruz commitment comes as Pedro and Agustin Almodovar confirmed rumors Monday evening that they both quit the Spanish Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences last December.

“We’re fed up with how we’re treated. We have nothing against the Spanish Academy. We just don’t want to form part of it,” Agustin Almodovar told Daily Variety.

The Almodovar brothers’ cancellation of membership marks a general protest at the large number of times that their films have been passed over for Spanish Academy Goya awards and a more specific disagreement with voting procedures which have tech candidates’ initial longlisting decided on by guild members.

“There’s no transparency in the voting for technical awards. Spain’s a relatively small film industry. There’s less room for many people to contribute towards decisions,” Almodovar added.

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