WHO is he?

Spanish film director, screenwriter and producer who has made around two dozen feature films since the early Eighties. Almodóvar was associated with avant-garde theatre before his foray into cinema. His thirteenth feature, All About My Mother (1999), won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film. He is widely revered as one of the greatest living scenarists and won the top writing prize at Cannes in 2006 for Volver (2006).

WHAT are his films about?

Themes

Almodóvar was at the forefront of the cultural renaissance in Madrid that took shape following the death of General Francisco Franco. Almodovar’s early films are characteristic of the countercultural movement of the age, underscored by sexual freedom and youthful verve. They also draw from the camp works of John Waters and Andy Warhol. The films of the subsequent period are increasingly autobiographical and explore sexual desire in its various forms. His more recent works function as paeans to womanhood, in addition to being experiments with classical popular cinema of Hollywood.

Style

A heightened style — bright colour palette dominated by primary colours, baroque décor, intense musical scores, shallow focus cinematography with numerous head-on compositions, vividly detailed, unconventional narrative structures — characterises Almodóvar’s cinema, which engages with classical genres such as Melodrama, Film Noir and Horror. Regular collaborators include actors Antonio Banderas, Carmen Maura and Penelope Cruz, music composer Alberto Iglesias and producer and his brother Augustin Almodóvar.

WHY is he of interest?

Besides being a key figure in post-Franco Spanish culture, Almodóvar is one of the most important and respected screenwriters in the international film scene today. His transgressive films couch the most crucial questions about gender, sexuality, identity and desire within popular cinematic idioms. They comprise, in equal measures, a national cinema, steeped in Spanish ethos, and a very personal body of work.

WHERE to discover him?

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990), perhaps the most subversive film Almodóvar has ever made, centres on the relationship between a mentally unstable man and the actress he is obsessed with and kidnaps. Almodóvar plays on the classic screenwriting gambit of character swap in a way that thoroughly questions our assumption about the characters and their situation. Rife with witty metaphors about bondage, the film is a scathing indictment of domesticity, marriage and the institution of family.