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Spain nod to Almodovar

Helmer's 'Volver' competing at Cannes

Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar has been awarded the Prince of Asturias Arts Prize, one of Spain’s most prestigious plaudits.

“I feel extremely honored,” Almodovar told the Spanish press at Madrid’s Barajas Airport, where he was on his way to Cannes for today’s competition unspooling of “Volver.”

“They’ve given a prize to someone who comes from the Madrid underground of the ’80s, and I have to thank everyone who has helped my career,” he added.

The jury justified selecting Almodovar “given the ingenuity and sincerity of his films and the zest and vivacity of his screenplays, but particularly, for his depicting his own and our common roots as part of a global society that is on the verge of a nervous breakdown as it struggles to assimilate the turn of the century.”

Almodovar is the fifth filmmaker to receive the Prince of Asturias Arts Prize since it was introduced in 1981. Others were Spaniards Luis Berlanga (1986) and Fernando Fernan Gomez (1995), Italian Vittorio Gassmann (1997) and Woody Allen (2002).

Allen’s prize marked the beginning of a growing relationship with Spain, where he will shoot an English-language pic in 2007 produced by local production house Mediapro.

Almodovar will receive a $64,000 cash prize and a sculpture by Joan Miro.

The Prince of Asturias Prizes will be presented in the fall in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo, capital of Spain’s Asturias region.

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