Spain celebrates Penelope Cruz's Oscar win

'Vicky Cristina' star is country's first Oscar-winning actress

MADRID -- Penelope Cruz's friend and mentor Pedro Almodovar said Monday that he cried upon hearing Cruz had won the supporting actress Oscar for her role in Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."

"Penelope's Oscar is a triumph for talent, ambition, tenacity and comic touches," the Spanish helmer said. "And in the value of an actress who throws herself into risky roles, which sometimes don't have sufficient dramatic support -- as is the case of Allen's film -- which she works with grace, heart and charisma."

Almodovar has directed Cruz in a handful of films, including "Volver," for which Cruz was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006.

The director, who watched the ceremony live on Spanish television, reteamed with the actress late last year to shoot "Broken Embraces," a contender for a slot at Cannes this May.

Meanwhile, Jaume Roures, head of production powerhouse Mediapro, which backed Allen's project, said he had traveled to Los Angeles because he believed in Cruz.

"It was worth the long trip," Roures told The Hollywood Reporter before catching a return flight to Barcelona on Monday morning. "We believed in Penelope's chances. It was the culmination of a process that started four years ago, and winning an Oscar is the icing on the cake. We're very happy, and the Oscar ceremony was impressive."

As the Spanish film industry celebrated Cruz's victory, local media offered special coverage of the first time a Spanish actress won an Oscar.

Spanish dailies -- including the two main newspapers, El Mundo and El Pais -- ran front page pictures of Cruz, who picked up the statue at 2:30 a.m. local time -- giving newspapers plenty of time to make their 4 a.m. print deadline. And broadcasters fit Oscar coverage into a range of Monday programs that otherwise would not have included the awards ceremony in their lineups.

Pay channel Canal Plus, which aired the ceremony live with coverage of the red carpet and a team based in Madrid to comment, hosted a simultaneous party at a hot night club in Madrid for locals to support Cruz.
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