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Almodovar takes Cruz

Actress considered for one of two possible pics

BERLIN — Penelope Cruz will topline Pedro Almodovar’s next film — once he’s chosen it.

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

The Spanish-lingo film will shoot in Spain this summer. Cruz’s European agent, Katrina Bayonas, confirmed the thesp has cleared her schedule and is ready to shoot either film.

Cruz took a secondary role in Almodovar’s “All About My Mother,” playing a do-good pregnant nun. The helmer has the habit of developing a clutch of projects — he had four in development last summer, including a longtime Cruz-Antonio Banderas meller, “Tarantula” — until he makes the decision on which to shoot.

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

The Cruz commitment comes as Pedro and Agustin Almodovar confirmed rumors Monday that they quit the Spanish Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences in 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 brothers’ films frequently have been passed over for Spanish Academy awards, and they disagree with the voting procedure in which the initial list of tech candidates is decided 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 toward decisions,” Agustin Almodovar added.

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