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Interview: Pedro Almodóvar • Director

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"My love letter to cinema"


- Journalists from across the world attended the Madrid screening of Broken Embraces, launching the film’s international career

Interview: Pedro  Almodóvar  • Director

Journalists from across the world attended the Madrid screening, which was worthy of a major festival and served as a launching pad for the dazzling international career set to be enjoyed by Broken Embraces [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Pedro Almodóvar
film profile
over the coming months. The director, as always, proved to be a lively, bold and intelligent speaker.

What are your hopes for this new film?
Pedro Almodóvar: I hope a lot of people will go and see it, that it doesn’t disappoint audiences, but speaks to them and entertains them. I hope the film conveys all the emotions we experienced whilst making it, which are in the characters and the script. When you make a film, you hope for reciprocation. I hope the audience reciprocates but this will remain a mystery until the release.

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In the film, there are numerous references to your other works. Is this an emotional choice or is it because in order to move forward, you have to step back a little, both in your life and your career?
My films are my legacy, in every sense: financial, emotional and artistic; they’re part of my life story and when I start writing, they’re present in my mind. In the plot, I refer to Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown for practical reasons: the characters in Broken Embraces are making a film, and so I decided that the most appropriate genre for this was a comedy, in order to highlight the problems and drama experienced by the actors making that comedy.

Just as in Talk To Her [+see also:
film profile
I included a completely original short, El amante menguante (“The Shrinking Lover”), here I preferred to freely adapt my own work. It’s not a self-tribute, but a matter of using and manipulating material without having to ask for permission or rights from anyone.

Broken Embraces is a romantic film, with intertwining, very intense love stories between the four main characters, but there’s also an underlying love story: my love story with cinema. This includes references to films by other directors, such as Rossellini’s Voyage to Italy. This film is my love letter to cinema: so it’s unsurprising that there are so many references.

The protagonist of Broken Embraces is a director who wants to remake one of his previous films, with which he’s still not satisfied. What relationship do you have with your previous films? Have you ever considered remaking them?
There are parts of my other films that could be improved, but I think it’s essential to consider films completed. I wouldn’t remake my previous films, that’s a bit neurotic. You have to accept that what you’ve done is finished, and that is the result of your work, even though at times circumstances weren’t ideal. That is the result and you have to accept it as such.

Likewise, you have to respect the film just as its creator conceived it, in its entirety. In Europe, this is clear, but in the US it’s a problem, for they believe the producer is in control of the film. In Europe, the rightful creator is the director, or the screenwriter, or a combination of the two. Films must be finished by their creator: interferences between the filmed material and the editing are devastating. Years ago, on one of my films, the producer arrived with 18 details to be retouched in editing. I refused and he said I could burn the material. I threatened him, because the law was on my side, and I was vehement. I resisted for months, waiting for the situation to end, until the distributor came to demand the film and it had to be released as it was. And it was a success.

There’s a lot of anticipation in Spain to see whether Broken Embraces can improve this season’s disappointing box office results.
I was honest in my approach to making this film, dedicating 14 months of my life to its production. Now the ball’s in the movie theatres’ court. People hope the film will boost the market share for Spanish works, and let’s hope it does, but it’s a mystery: the response from audiences is unpredictable. I find myself plunged in the greatest uncertainty.

How do you feel right now, just before the film’s release?
I feel like I always do: I’m thinking about the week ahead. I’m swamped with promotional events and trips; and I’m also praying I don’t get a headache. I’m preparing myself like an athlete, taking vitamins and trying to sleep. I feel the same hope and uncertainty I felt with my other films, for although this is my 17th title, I don’t feel any more confident.


international title: Broken Embraces
original title: Los abrazos rotos
country: Spain
sales agent: Focus Features (USA)
year: 2009
directed by: Pedro Almodóvar
screenplay: Pedro Almodóvar
cast: Penélope Cruz, Blanca Portillo, Lluís Homar, José Luis Gómez, Carlos Leal, Lola Dueñas, Ángela Molina, Rossy de Palma

main awards/selection

European Film Awards 2009 Best European Composer - Alberto Iglesias
Cannes 2009 Official Selection

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