The art of motion-picture making within the nation of Spain or by Spanish filmmakers abroad is collectively known as Spanish Cinema.
In recent years, Spanish cinema has achieved high marks of recognition as a result of its creative and technical excellence. In the long history of Spanish cinema, the great filmmaker Luis Buñuel was the first to achieve universal recognition, followed by Pedro Almodóvar in the 1980s. Spanish cinema has also seen international success over the years with films by directors like Segundo de Chomón, Florián Rey, Luis García Berlanga, Juan Antonio Bardem, Carlos Saura, Julio Medem and Alejandro Amenábar. Woody Allen, upon receiving the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award in 2002 in Oviedo remarked: "when I left New York, the most exciting film in the city at the time was Spanish, Pedro Almodovar's one. I hope that Europeans will continue to lead the way in film making because at the moment not much is coming from the United States."
Non-directors have obtained less international notability like the cinematographer Néstor Almendros, the Art director Gil Parrondo, the screenwriter Rafael Azcona, the actress Penélope Cruz and the actors Fernando Rey, Francisco Rabal, Antonio Banderas, Javier Bardem and Fernando Fernán Gómez have obtained significant recognition outside Spain.
Today, 10 to 20% of box office receipts in Spain are generated by domestic films, a situation that repeats itself in many nations of Europe and the Americas. The Spanish government has therefore implemented various measures aimed at supporting local film production and movie theaters, which include the assurance of funding from the main national television stations. The trend is being reversed with the recent screening of productions such as the €30 million film Alatriste (starring Viggo Mortensen), the Academy Award winning Spanish/Mexican film Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno), Volver (starring Penélope Cruz), and Los Borgia (€10 million), all of them sold-out blockbusters in Spain.
Another aspect of Spanish cinema mostly unknown to the general public is the appearance of English-language Spanish films such as The Machinist (starring Christian Bale) The Others (starring Nicole Kidman), Basic Instinct 2 (starring Sharon Stone), and Milos Forman’s Goya's Ghosts (starring Javier Bardem and Natalie Portman). All of these films were produced by Spanish firms. This attests to the dynamism and creativity of Spanish directors and producers. (More on this below.)
The matter of which Spanish film came first is in doubt. The first was either Salida de la misa de doce de la Iglesia del Pilar de Zaragoza (Exit of the Twelve O'Clock Mass from the Church of El Pilar of Zaragoza) by Eduardo Jimeno Peromarta, Plaza del puerto en Barcelona (Plaza of the Port of Barcelona) by Alexandre Promio or the anonymous film Llegada de un tren de Teruel a Segorbe (Arrival of a Train from Teruel in Segorbe). It is also possible that the first film was Riña en un café (Brawl in a Café) by the prolific filmmaker Fructuós Gelabert. These films were all released in 1897.
The first Spanish film director to achieve great success internationally was Segundo de Chomón, who worked in France and Italy but made several famous fantasy films in Spain such as El Hotel eléctrico.
In 1928, Ernesto Giménez Caballero and Luis Buñuel founded the first cine-club (film society), in Madrid. By that point, Madrid was already the primary center of the industry; 44 of the 58 films released up until that point had been produced there.
The rural drama La aldea maldita (The Cursed Village) (Florian Rey, 1929) was a hit in Paris, where, at the same time, Buñuel and Dalí premiered Un chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog). Un chien andalou has become one of the most well-known avant-garde films of that era.
In 1935, Manuel Casanova founded the Compañía Industrial Film Española S.A. (Spanish Industrial Film Company Inc, CIFESA) and introduced sound to Spanish film-making. CIFESA would grow to become the biggest production company to ever exist in Spain. Sometimes criticized as an instrument of the right wing, it nevertheless supported young filmmakers such as Luis Buñuel and his pseudo-documentary Las Hurdes: Tierra Sin Pan (Breadless Land). In 1933 it was responsible for filming 17 motion pictures and in 1934, 21. The most notable success was Benito Perojo´s La verbena de la paloma (The Dove's Verbena). By 1935 production had risen to 37 films.
The new regime then began to impose obligatory dubbing to highlight directors such as Ignacio F. Iquino, Rafael Gil (Huella de luz (1941)), Juan de Orduña (Locura de amor (1948)), Antonio Román (Los últimos de Filipinas), José Luis Sáenz de Heredia (Raza (film)) (1942)) with scripts of Franco's and Edgar Neville's. It was time of CIFESA film company, with their epic historical films and their comedies such as (Ella, él y sus millones). They also began to highlight Fedra (1956), by Manuel Mur Oti.
For its part, Marcelino, pan y vino (Marcelino, Bread and Wine) (1955) from Ladislao Vajda would trigger a trend of child actors, such as those who would become the protagonists of "Joselito," "Marisol," "Rocío Durcal" or "Pili y Mili."
Finally, in the 1950s, the influence of Neorealism became evident in the works of new directors such as Antonio del Amo, Antonio Nieves Conde's masterpiece Surcos, Juan Antonio Bardem's (Muerte de un ciclista and Calle mayor), and Luis García Berlanga (Bienvenido Mister Marshall, Plácido).
Juan de Orduña would later have an enormous commercial hit with El Último Cuplé (The Final Variety Song) (1957), with leading actress Sara Montiel.
On the other hand, several American epic-scale superproductions or blockbusters were shot also in Spain, produced either by Samuel Bronston, (King of Kings (1961), El Cid (1961), 55 Days at Peking (1963), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), Circus World (1964)), or by others (The Pride and the Passion (1957), Solomon and Sheba (1959), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965)). These movies employed many Spanish technical professionals, and as a byproduct caused that some filmstars, like Ava Gardner and Orson Welles lived in Spain for years. Actually Welles, with Mr. Arkadin (1955), in fact a French-Spanish-Swiss coproduction, was one of the first American filmmakers to devise Spain as location for his shootings, and he did it again for Chimes at Midnight (1966), this time a Spanish-Swiss coproduction.
Many international actors played in Spanish films: Italians Vittorio Gassman and Rossano Brazzi with Mexican María Félix in La corona negra ; Italian couple Raf Vallone and Elena Varzi in Los ojos dejan huella, Mexican Arturo de Córdova in Los peces rojos, Americans Betsy Blair in Calle mayor; Edmund Gwenn in Calabuch or Richard Basehart in Los jueves, milagro among many others. All the foreign actors were dubbed into Spanish. Mexican actor Gael García Bernal has also recently received international notoriety in films by Spanish directors.
The San Sebastian International Film Festival is a major film festival supervised by the FIAPF. It was started in 1953, and it takes place in San Sebastián every year. Alfred Hitchcock, Audrey Hepburn, Steven Spielberg, Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor are some of the stars that have participated in this festival, the most important in Spain and one of the best cinema festivals in the world.
The Festival de Cine de Sitges, now known as the Festival Internacional de Cinema de Catalunya (International Film Festival of Catalonia), was started in 1967. It is considered one of the best cinematographic contests in Europe, and is the best in the specialty of science fiction film.
At the beginning, the popular phenomena of striptease and landismo (from Alfredo Landa) triumph. During the democracy, a whole new series of directors base their films either on controversial topics or on revising the country's history. Jaime Chávarri, Víctor Erice, José Luis Garci, Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón, Eloy de la Iglesia, Pilar Miró and Pedro Olea were some of these who directed great films. Montxo Armendáriz or Juanma Bajo Ulloa's "new Basque cinema" has also been outstanding; another prominent Basque director is Julio Medem.
The Spanish cinema, however, depends on the great hits of the so-called Madrileño comedy by Fernando Colomo or Fernando Trueba, the sophisticated melodramas by Pedro Almodóvar, Alex de la Iglesia and Santiago Segura's black humour or Alejandro Amenábar's works, in such a manner that, according to producer José Antonio Félez, "50% of total box office revenues comes from five titles, and between 8 and 10 films give 80% of the total" during the year 2004.
|Year||Total number of spectators (millions)||Spectators of Spanish cinema (millions)||Percentage||Film||Spectators (millions)||Percentage over the total of Spanish cinema|
|1996||96.2||10.4||10.8%|| Two Much |
|1997||107.1||13.9||14.9%|| Airbag |
(Juanma Bajo Ulloa)
|1998||119.8||14.1||13.3%|| Torrente, The Stupid Arm of the Law |
|1999||131.3||18.1||16%|| All About My Mother |
|2000||135.3||13.4||11%|| Commonwealth |
(Álex de la Iglesia)
|2001||146.8||26.2||17.9%|| The Others |
|2002||140.7||19.0||13.5%|| The Other Side of the Bed |
(Emilio Martínez Lázaro)
|2003||137.5||21.7||15.8%|| Mortadelo & Filemón: The Big Adventure |
|2004||143.9||19.3||13.4%|| The Sea Inside |
|2005||126.0||21.0||16.7%|| Torrente 3: The Protector |
|2006 (provisional)||67,8||6,3||9,3%|| Volver |
In 1987, a year after the founding of the Academia de las Artes y las Ciencias Cinematográficas de España, the Goya Awards were created to recognize excellence in many aspects of Spanish motion picture making such as acting, directing and screenwriting. The first ceremony took place on March 16, 1987 at the Teatro Lope de Vega, Madrid. The ceremony continues to take place annually around the end of January, and awards are given to films produced during the previous year. The award itself is a small bronze bust of Francisco de Goya created by the sculptor José Luis Fernández.
KanZaman (Spain) and Recorded Picture Company (UK) co-produced Sexy Beast (starring Ben Kingsley) in 1999. Other films co-produced by KanZaman include: The Reckoning (starring Paul Bettany and Willem Dafoe); The Bridge of San Luis Rey, based on the Pulitzer prize winning Thornton Wilder novel of the same name and starring Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Kathy Bates and Pilar Lopez de Ayala; Mike Barker’s A Good Woman (starring Helen Hunt and Scarlett Johansson), and Sahara (starring Matthew McConaughey and Penélope Cruz). In 2004, KanZaman established Reino del Cielo s.l. through which it co-produced Ridley Scott’s epic Kingdom of Heaven (starring Orlando Bloom and Liam Neeson), making it the biggest production in the history of Spanish cinema.