Against his parents wishes Pedro Almodovar left the religious boarding school in the Spanish city of Caceres, where they hoped he would study to become a priest and moved to Madrid in 1967 to become a filmmaker. When dictator Francisco Franco closed the Madrid School Cinema, he became self-taught, influenced by fellow Spaniard Luis Bunuel.
Working at a number of jobs, he bought a super 8 camera with his first pay, making silent short films – it was too difficult to attach the thin magnetic soundtrack strip – which he would screen in bars, providing the music with a cassette and doing all the voiceovers live. He came to prominence during La Movida Madrilena, The Madrid Movement, a counterculture group and cultural renaissance that emerged following the death of Franco, becoming involved in experimental cinema and theatre, writing, acting, singing and contributing comic strips.
His first feature, PEPI, LUCI, BOM (1980), shot in 16mm, later blown up to 35mm was based on one of his comics. Pedro gained international recognition eight years later with his black and white feminist light comedy, WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN, his first critical and commercial success, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Since then he has became a major player in the filmmaking industry, winning two Oscars, five BAFTAS, two Golden Globes, nine GOYAS (Spain’s national cinema award), four prizes at the Cannes Film Festival among a host of other accolades. He was presented with the French Legion of Honour in 1997, the Gold Medal of Merit in Fine Arts from his country’s Culture Ministry and Honorary Doctorates from both Harvard and Oxford.
Pedro was presenting one of this years BAFTA Screenwriters Lectures at the Curzon Soho Cinema in London last Saturday, where he kindly stopped to sign and dedicate my drawing.