Pedro Almodóvar on the Importance of Cinema’s Recovery from the Pandemic

Photo Credit: El Deseo D.A. S.L.U., photo by Iglesias Mas. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

In conjunction with the release of his film Parallel Mothers, Pedro Almodóvar speaks to Boxoffice Pro on his feelings about the worldwide cinematic recovery. Read Daniel Loria’s conversation with Almodóvar, reprinted from our Centennial issue, here.

Spanish cinemas are still not out of the crisis, but it looks like we’ve turned a corner with the release of Dune and the James Bond movie [No Time to Die]. The situation should improve now that cinemas are reopening at full capacity. To be perfectly honest, it’s not like there were a lot of very interesting movies being released until recently, but more are coming out now. We opened Parallel Mothers in Spain in October and finished well, under the circumstances, in third place behind James Bond and The Addams Family 2. The film is doing well, but we are naturally very concerned since things are not back to the way they were before the pandemic.

Hombre,for me, cinema’s recovery is extremely important, because I’m practically exclusively dedicated to this line of work. I was especially busy during the pandemic because the situation was so dramatic that I didn’t want to let it get to me. I shot The Human Voice, a short film with Tilda [Swinton], in English over the summer of 2020, and we took it to Venice. It got a theatrical release—which I wasn’t even expecting, I thought we’d have to launch it on some sort of streaming platform—and came out around the fall of 2021. Then I immediately turned around and started preproduction on this movie, Parallel Mothers, which I finished writing during the stay-at-home orders. Honestly, I’ve been really busy over the last year and a half, so the idea of having one of my movies back in theaters means a lot to me.

There is this great uncertainty out there. Sometimes you get the feeling of being in a business that has already peaked and is being totally overshadowed. But other times … for example, I went to this year’s two most important film festivals, Cannes and Venice. We were in competition in Venice [with Parallel Mothers], and I went to Cannes to give an award to Jodie Foster. And it was so inspiring to see the public’s need to watch movies on the big screen. I’m not talking about mainstream movies; I’m talking about auteur cinema. There was a real hunger from those audiences to see specialty films. I regained a lot of confidence at those two festivals. It gave me hope that the type of movies we make—art house movies—are still very much in demand.

Coming to New York for the New York Film Festival, for me, there is nothing like seeing an auditorium like Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center at full capacity. I don’t know how many people it seats—it felt like 2,000 just judging by the reception of our film. That was a marvelous experience. It was such a warm reception, and it dispelled a lot of concerns I had about Parallel Mothers being too Spanish for international audiences because of the issues I tackle in the film. Having screened the film in New York and Venice, I feel confident international audiences won’t have a problem connecting with it.

I remember I started to go to the movies at a very early age, in the late 1950s. During that time, Spain was a country that would take many years to become a place a person like me could comfortably live in. Years from being a place a person like me would want to live in. For me, back then, the cinema was a parallel universe—the type of universe I wanted to live in. The type of universe you’d only dream about, one that seemed a lot more appealing than the harsh realities of the postwar era. During that difficult time, the cinema represented for me and for the people of my country a much better place to live, visit, and dream than the reality we all lived in.

Photo Credit: El Deseo D.A. S.L.U., photo by Iglesias Mas. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

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