Pedro Almodovar: Chavela's "husband of this world"
By Yurema Perez-Hinojosa
Earlier this summer, Aubin Pictures had the pleasure to interview internationally recognized Spanish filmmaker, screenwriter, producer and former actor Pedro Almodovar. The 66-year-old director was born and raised in a small village in La Mancha, Spain. He always has a love and admiration for film. He began writing and shooting short films on a Super-8 camera while working at a phone company. Almodovar’s first commercial film was released in 1980, entitled Pepi, Luci, Bom y Otras Chicas del Montón (1980). He produced several films over the next eight years when he finally received international recognition for his comedy Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988). The director has won Oscars for his films “All About my Mother” and “Talk to Her” as well as various other critically-acclaimed awards.
Almodovar has been critical of the US film industry’s sexist and misogynist habits. He says they are “losing an enormous opportunity by not creating good roles for women of all ages.” Almodovar has proposed a theory: generally, actresses have often been used as devices to prove that their male counterparts are not homosexual. Hollywood seldom puts out a film featuring a complex female protagonist. Almodovar also finds Tinseltown is clad in ageism as well. An older actress receiving a leading role (with the exception of Meryl Streep) has become a rare occurrence, and Almodovar is not one to hide his disappointment. “There’s a kind of diabolical sexism” he states in a recent interview, “and I say that it’s diabolical because there’s no one that we can actually accuse of being responsible for this sexism.”
Almodovar had a deep love and respect for Chavela Vargas. He listened to her music throughout his late youth in the '70s. During that time Chavela had fallen out of the music scene due to her drinking addiction. It wasn’t until the '90s that Chavela started performing at nightclubs in Mexico again. Pedro discovered her and almost immediately the two grew extremely fond of each other. Almodovar helped Chavela Vargas' music regain recognition among larger audiences with his inclusion of her songs in his films. Chavela started performing sold-out concerts across Europe and the Americas.
When Chavela passed away, Pedro was heartbroken. He posted a farewell letter to the songstress on Facebook, calling Chavela a “volcano”. Pedro reminisces on his various memories with Chavela including the moments they spent together fighting their individual addictions (her drinking and his smoking) and working alongside her in prep for concerts. He signs off as “your husband of this world.”
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Child, Ben. "Pedro Almodóvar Condemns Hollywood's 'diabolical Sexism'"The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 20 May 2016. Web. 27 July 2016. <https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/may/20/pedro-almodovar-hollywood-diabolical-sexism-women-cannes>.
Cirilo, Santos. "EL PAÍS." EL PAÍS. N.p., 05 Aug. 2012. Web. 27 July 2016. <http://cultura.elpais.com/cultura/2012/08/05/actualidad/1344199662_230252.html>.
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