Carlos Saura in 2017
Carlos Saura Atarés
4 January 1932
|Occupation||Film director, screenwriter, photographer|
|Relatives||Antonio Saura (brother)|
Carlos Saura Atarés (born 4 January 1932) is a Spanish film director, photographer and writer. Along with Luis Buñuel and Pedro Almodóvar, he is counted among the Spain’s three most renowned filmmakers. He has a long and prolific career that spans over half a century. Several of his films have won many international awards.
Saura began his career in 1955 making documentary shorts. He quickly gained international prominence when his first feature-length film premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 1960. Although he started filming as a neorealist, Saura quickly switched to films encoded with metaphors and symbolism in order to get around the Spanish censors. In 1966, he was thrust into the international spotlight when his film La Caza won the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. In the following years, he forged an international reputation for his cinematic treatment of emotional and spiritual responses to repressive political conditions.
By the 1970s, Saura was the best known filmmaker working in Spain. His films employed complex narrative devices and were frequently controversial. He won Special Jury Awards for La Prima Angélica (1973) and Cría Cuervos (1975) in Cannes; and an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film nomination in 1979 for Mama Cumple 100 Años.
In the 1980s, Saura was in the spotlight for his Flamenco trilogy – Bodas de Sangre, Carmen and El Amor Brujo, in which he combined dramatic content and flamenco dance forms. His work continued to be featured in worldwide competitions and earned numerous awards. He received two nominations for Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, for Carmen (1983) and Tango (1998). His films are sophisticated expression of time and space fusing reality with fantasy, past with present, and memory with hallucination. In the last two decades of the 20th century, Saura has concentrated on works uniting music, dance and images.
Saura was born in Huesca, Aragón, Spain on 4 January 1932. His father, Antonio Saura Pacheco, who came from Murcia, was an attorney and civil servant. His mother, Fermina Atares Torrente, was a concert pianist. The second of their four children, Carlos had an older brother, Antonio Saura, and two younger sisters, Pilar and Angeles. Antonio became a well-known abstract expressionist painter. From their parents, the four siblings received a liberal understanding education. Because his father worked for the Ministry of the Interior, the Saura family moved to Barcelona, Valencia, and, in 1953, to Madrid. Saura’s childhood was marked by the Spanish Civil War, during which the Nationalists fought against the Republicans.
Saura has vivid recollection of his childhood during the war. He later evoked some of them in his films – the games he played, and the songs he sang, as well as darker memories of bombings and hunger, blood and death. He was taught to read by a priest – a relative whom his parents sheltered from anticlerical extremists. At the war’s end, Saura was separated from his parents and sent back to Huesca to live with his maternal grandmother and aunts. He described these relatives as “right wings and very religious” who imposed in the child the very antithesis of the liberal education he had received in the republican zone.
In 1957-1958, Saura created his first film, Cuenca. In 1962 his film Los Golfos was recognized for its strong sociological impact, to aid Spanish youth by tackling the issue of juvenile delinquency in Madrid's poorest districts. Four years later (1966), he was honored at the 16th Berlin International Film Festival, where he received the Silver Bear for Best Director for his film La caza. In 1967, his film Peppermint Frappé also received the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 18th Berlin International Film Festival. He won the Golden Bear in 1981 at the 31st Berlin International Film Festival for his film Deprisa, Deprisa.
The films La prima Angélica (Cousin Angélica) of 1973 and Cría cuervos (Raising Ravens [from the Spanish phrase: Cria cuervos y te sacaran los ojos (Raise ravens and they will peck out your eyes)]) of 1975 received the special prize of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival. His film Mama cumple 100 años (Mom is celebrating her 100 years) was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1980 Academy Awards.
Saura later become known for movies featuring flamenco and other traditional dances. His Flamenco Trilogy of the 1980s includes Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding), Carmen, and El amor brujo featuring the work of Spanish flamenco dancer Cristina Hoyos. He later made the movies Flamenco (1995), Tango (1998), and Fados (2007).
Saura considers his film on surrealist master Luis Buñuel to be his best cinematic work. In an interview to an online film magazine, he says about Buñuel y la mesa del rey Salomón (Buñuel and the table of King Solomon -2001): “That’s the greatest film I’ve ever made. I like the film but nobody else seems to like it. I’m sure Buñuel would have loved this film. But perhaps only he would have loved it. Everything you see in the film is actually based on conversations I had with him.”
In 2008, Carlos Saura was honoured with a Global Life Time Achievement Award at the 10th Mumbai International Film Festival, organized by the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image.
Carlos Saura was married three times. He first married Adela Medrano in Barcelona in 1957. They had two sons, Carlos (b. 1958) and Antonio (b. 1960). On 27 December 1982 he married Mercedes Pérez. They had three sons, Manuel (b. 1980), Adrián (b. 1984) and Diego (b. 1987).
Between those two marriages, Saura had at least one known son, Shane (b. 1974), with the actress Geraldine Chaplin. He is also the father of a daughter named Ana (b. December 1994) from his third marriage to actress Eulalia Ramón.
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