The Spanish director, 69, is having a good year after his “Pain and Glory” was recently one of the standout movies in competition in Cannes, where it was praised by Variety’s Peter Debruge as “a remarkable mature meta-fiction, exploring the emotional scars that underlie his own physical frailty.” Lead actor and frequent Almodovar collaborator Antonio Banderas won the award for best actor in Cannes for his depiction of an aging director loosely based on Almodovar himself.
“I am very excited and honored by the gift of this Golden Lion,” Almodovar said in a statement.
Almodovar is the second person set to be feted during Venice’s upcoming edition. Oscar-winning actress Julie Andrews’ Golden Lion was announced in March. The two honorees follow the pattern of Venice awarding career prizes to an actor and a director.
Almodovar, whose oeuvre spans 21 movies, said he has good memories of Venice, where he made his international debut in 1983 with his third feature, the black comedy “Dark Habits,” which marked “the first time one of my films traveled out of Spain.”
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“It was my international baptism and a wonderful experience,” said Almodovar, who returned to the Lido in 1988 with “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” the film that brought him international recognition.
Venice chief Alberto Barbera praised Almodovar as “the greatest and most influential Spanish director since Buñuel, and moreover as “a filmmaker who has offered us the most multifaceted, controversial, and provocative portraits of post-Franco Spain.”
Barbera added: “The topics of transgression, desire, and identity are the terrain of choice for his films, which he imbues with corrosive humor and adorns with a visual splendor that confers unusual radiance on the aesthetic camp and pop art to which he explicitly refers.”
Almodovar’s career started in 1980 with “Pepi, Luci, Bom,” a no-budget film made as a cooperative effort with the rest of the crew and the cast who were all inexperienced, except actress for Carmen Maura.
In 1986, he founded the production company El Deseo with his brother Agustin. Their first project was “Law of Desire.” Since then, they have produced all of Almodovar’s films and have also produced works by other prominent directors then at the start of their careers such as Lucretia Martel’s “The Holy Girl” and “The Headless Woman.”
With “All About my Mother” (1999) Almodovar won his fist Oscar which was for best foreign film. Three years later, “Talk to Her” earned him an Academy Award for Best Script.
The 76th Venice Film Festival will run Aug. 28 to Sept. 7. The lineup will be announced July 25.