Spain Cinematography in the 1980’s and 1990’s

With the 1982 elections in which the Socialist Party (PSOE) obtained an absolute majority, the Spain entered a phase of development that saw the full assimilation of the country to the rest of Europe. As for Spanish cinematography, in the same year the responsibility of the Dirección General de Cine was entrusted to Pilar Miró, who undertook to obtain what will be called the Miró Law: the ‘S’ classification was abolished and a production aid system, thus improving the average quality of films. Also in 1982 Garci won the Oscar for best foreign film with Volver a empezar (Return to begin) and the following year Mario Camus the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival with La colmena (1982). At the same time, Erice shot El sur (1983), his second film, in which Iciar Bollaín, a young actress who later became established in the 1990s, appears. Fr Mirò remained at the head of the Dirección General until 1985 (the year in which it became the ICAA, Instituto de la Cinematografía y las Artes Audiovisuales), leaving behind a national cinema of few pretensions, resting on state aid, to which the public began to turn their backs. In the second half of the 1980s, in addition to the figure of Almodóvar – who continued on his way, regardless of any subsidy, with Entre tinieblas (1983; The indiscreet charm of sin), ¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer ésto? (1984; What have I done to deserve this?), Matador (1986), La ley del deseo (1987; The law of desire) and Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (1988; Donne sull ‘ edge of a nervous breakdown) – Montxo Armendáriz emerged with Veintisiete horas (1986), José Luis Cuerda with El bosque animado (1987), Agustín Villaronga with Tras el cristal (1987), in addition to the already established Gutiérrez Aragón, Aranda, Saura and Trueba. In 1992, ten years after the entry into force of the Miró Law, the text of the law appeared in need of revision, while Spanish cinema seemed to be going through a phase of fatigue. In the year of the Barcelona Olympics, the Universal Exposition in Seville, and Madrid, the European capital of culture, the cinema found itself playing only a marginal role: it was therefore necessary to modify the system of subsidies that ended up favoring a shattered and resourceless film industry. Producers were the first to want to free themselves from dependence on public administration by creating the Fondación Procinema, from which the current FAPAE (Federación de Associaciones di Productores Audiovisuales) would later be born.

According to ehotelat, something has started to move: established directors have given way to rookies, favoring a generational change. Almodóvar, who had just achieved international success with Tacones lejanos (1991; Stiletto Heels), produced Alex de la Iglesia’s first feature, Acción mutante (1993; Mutant Action); Chus Gutiérrez went to shoot Sublet (1992) in New York, thanks to Trueba’s support. In the Basque Country, cinema showed signs of vitality, with the invasion of Juanma Bajo Ulloa and his Alas de mariposa (1991) and Julio Medem, which aroused great surprise with Vacas (1992). In Madrid Gracia Querejeta, daughter of producer Elías, shot her first film, Una estación de paso (1992), while the young and unknown Manuel Gómez Pereira was able to renew the comedy with Salsa rosa (1992). In the same year Bigas Luna shot Jamón jamón (1992; Ham, ham), launching a trio of very active actors throughout the 1990s: Pénelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Jordi Mollà. Also in 1992 Erice shot her third film, El sol del membrillo. Later, in 1993, Trueba won the Oscar for best foreign film with Belle époque (1992) and the following year José María Ortero, appointed head of the ICAA, he undertook to urge a reform of the law for cinema that would favor continuity in production activities and the consolidation of already established companies; among these stand out Andrés Vicente Gómez’s Lolafilms and Gerardo Herrero’s Tornasol Films, more involved in co-productions with Latin American and European companies and responsible for the shooting of Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom (1995; Land and Freedom), a film that demonstrated how the civil war can still prove to be a very topical topic.

In the last five years of the 20th century. Spanish cinema has shown an unstoppable energy. New names, such as those of Mariano Barroso with Mi hermano del alma (1994), Iciar Bollaín with Hola ¿estás sola? (1996), Agustín Díaz Yanes with Nadie hablará de nosotras cuando hayamos muerto (1995), Alejandro Amenábar with Tesis (1996; Tesis – Tesi), Daniel Calparsoro with Salto al vacío (1995), joined the already established directors who have continued to work at full speed. Trueba shot Two Much (1996; Two Much), imposing the ‘phenomenon’ Antonio Banderas in the United States. In addition, Almodóvar achieved international success with Todo sobre mi madre (1999; All About My Mother), winning the Oscar for best foreign film; Amenábar, now well established, presented, at the end of 2001, The others, starring Nicole Kidman and produced by Tom Cruise; and Alex de la Iglesia renewed the horror genre with El día de la bestia (1995) and La comunidad (2000; Top Floor Intrigue), two big hits from the 1990s. Finally, the Goya Awards, awarded since 1987, have achieved greater importance and popularity; while the Academia de Cine turned out to be one of the liveliest tools of an industry that is perpetually in crisis, but which is constantly renewing itself.

Spain Cinematography in the 1980's and 1990's