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MADRID — Elias Querejeta, the man known in the Spanish film industry simply as “The Producer,” died Sunday in Madrid. He was 78.
With a production career that spanned some 70 films, Querejeta is best known in the U.S. for landmark films like Carlos Suara‘s The Hunt, Raise Ravens and Cousin Angelica; Victor Erice‘s The Spirit of the Beehive; Fernando Leon‘s Mondays in the Sun — starring Javier Bardem — and his daughter Gracia Querejeta‘s Seven Billiards Tables.
With his shock of unruly white hair and ever-present dark turtleneck, Querejeta was Spain’s key producer during the transition from dictatorship under General Francisco Franco to democracy and is largely credited with modernizing the Spanish industry.
Strong political and social censors in charge of eliminating any compromising scenes couldn’t stand in the way of Querejeta’s penchant for introducing hard-hitting social and political commentary in films in subtle but biting ways — including Erice’s silent critique of post-Spanish Civil War Spain.
Born in Spain’s northern Basque region in 1934, Querejeta’s five-year stint in Spain’s professional soccer league — playing for Real Sociedad and even scoring a goal against Real Madrid in 1955 — only enriched the lore of Querejeta.
Pedro Perez, president of the Spanish Producers Federation FAPAE, called Querejeta “the best Spanish producer of all time.”
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