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Carmen Maura on the Verge of a San Seb Honor

Almodovar muse will receive a career achievement Donostia Award

MADRID — Pedro Almodovar actress and muse Carmen Maura will receive a career achievement Donostia Award at this September’s 61st San Sebastian Film Festival.

The award ceremony will coincide with an out-of-competition screening of Maura’s latest film, Alex de la Iglesia’s witchcraft comedy “Witching & Bitching,” which Universal Pictures Intl. will release in Spain Sept. 27.

The Donostia Award has traditionally focused on high-profile prestige Hollywood names: Meryl Streep, Al Pacino and Robert de Niro, for example.

Maura is just the fourth Spanish figure to receive the award, after director-scribe-thesp Fernando Fernan Gomez, Bunuel leading man Francisco Rabal and Antonio Banderas.

Maura broke through in short films made in the last years of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship and, after his death in 1975, was a leading actress in movies that took advantage of newly won  freedoms.

A star of Fernando Colomo’s “Paper Tigers,” a portrait of middle-class Spaniards’ muddled adaptation to liberty, Maura was a driving force in persuading Almodovar to shoot his first commercial feature, “Pepi, Luci, Bom and a Whole Lot of Other Girls,” and starred in most of his early films through to the Oscar-nominated “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”

Demonstrating an ability to combine Almodovar’s characteristic genre-grafting mix of drama, comedy and melodrama, Maura went on to enjoy a successful career in both Spain and France, where she co-starred in hits such as Philippe Leguay’s “The Women on the Sixth Floor.”

At least one other Donostia Award will be announced this summer.

Emiliano de Pablos contributed to this report.

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