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Pedro Almodóvar is to open the 2021 Venice International Film Festival.
The Oscar-winning Spanish filmmaker’s latest feature Madres Paralelas — starring Penélope Cruz, Milena Smit, Israel Elejalde and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón — has been revealed as the official curtain raiser on the Lido on Sept. 1.
“I was born as a film director in 1983 in Venice in the Mezzogiorno Mezzanotte section,” said Almodóvar (referring to his film Dark Habits, which helped cement the young director’s reputation as the ‘enfant terrible’ of Spanish cinema. “Thirty-eight years later I am called to open the festival. I cannot explain the joy and the honor, and how much this means to me without falling into complacency. I am very grateful to the festival for this recognition and hope to be up to it.”
Festival director Alberto Barbera said: “I am grateful to Pedro Almodóvar for having given us the privilege of opening the film festival with his new movie, an intense and sensitive portrait of two women as they contend with a pregnancy with unpredictable consequences, women’s solidarity, and sexuality that is experienced in full freedom and without hypocrisy, all against the backdrop of a reflection on the ineluctable need for truth that is to be unwaveringly pursued.”
Madres Paralelas — which translates as Parallel Mothers — tells the story of two mothers who enter the same hospital ward to give birth. Both are single and got pregnant by accident. Janis, middle-aged, doesn’t regret it and she is exultant while the other, Ana, an adolescent, is scared, repentant and traumatized. Janis tries to encourage her while they move like sleepwalkers along the hospital corridors. The few words they exchange in these hours will create a very close link between the two, which chance will undertake to develop and complicate in such a decisive way that it will change the lives of both.
“This is a very welcome return to Venice in Competition for the recipient of our 2019 Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, many years after the success of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown the movie that marked his definitive triumph on the international scene,” added Barbera.
Having broken out globally in 1988 with Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Almodovar claimed his first Oscar for best foreign film with 1999’s All About My Mother, which also won him best director at the Cannes Film Festival. Three years later he was award the Academy Award for best script with Talk to Her. In 2004, Bad Education was chosen to open the Cannes (Almodovar now joins an exclusive club to have opened both Cannes and Venice). In 2006, he presented Volver in Cannes, where it got the best screenplay award as well as the best actress award for the six actresses of the film, leaded by Cruz, who would eventually became the first Spanish actress nominated for an Academy Award for a Spanish language film.
Madres paralelas will be screened Wednesday September 1st, in the Sala Grande at the Palazzo del Cinema (Lido di Venezia). Madres paralelas is produced by El Deseo and will be distributed in Italy by Warner Bros. Pictures.
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