Talk of the town: Almodóvar celebrates Spanish cinema with BAFTA in London

Filmmaker delivers annual David Lean Lecture

Pedro Almodóvar: “Shameless.”
Pedro Almodóvar: “Shameless.”CLAUDIO ÁLVAREZ

“A celebration of Spanish cinema” was how director Pedro Almodóvar described the masterclass on his career, influences and working methods that he gave at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in London on Sunday.

“The Spanish cinema that runs so many risks is going to be on the stage tonight through me, our language and our culture,” the Manchegan filmmaker said in an interview with newswire Efe.

The four-times BAFTA Award winner was invited to deliver this year’s annual David Lean Lecture by the Academy, which wanted to recognize him as “one of cinema’s truly original voices with a body of work that includes a number of real cinematic masterpieces.”

To a packed auditorium, Almodóvar gave a self-assured presentation in English and Spanish, filled with the films that have inspired some of the best-known and celebrated moments in Spanish cinema.

“Cinema exists, it represents us and what’s more it is one of the best ways of promoting and selling the culture of a country, something the Americans know very well, better than anyone,” he said.

The director of All About My Mother and Talk to Her chose to call his lecture “The Cinema Inside Me,” “because it talks about the works of others as something organic within me.”

“I want to discover the secret and often mysterious meaning of certain films within my films,” he said.

The 63-year-old, who admitted he was “shameless” and had no fear of the stage, constantly interacted with the audience and improvised despite having prepared 22 pages of notes and clips from the films that had most influenced him, including John Cassavetes’ Opening Night (1977) and Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s All About Eve (1950).

“I didn’t want to adopt the role of teacher but rather of someone showing what he has done and what has inspired him,” he said.

Despite showing clips from films from throughout his career, Almodóvar declined to reveal anything about his latest movie Los amantes pasajeros (to be known as I’m So Excited in English), which is now in postproduction and is scheduled to be released next summer.

After the lecture, BAFTA made the most of the filmmaker’s presence to hand him the award for Best Foreign Language Film, which he won earlier this year for The Skin I Live In, but was unable to collect.

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