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Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar to head Cannes jury

January 31, 2017

His films are full of homosexuality, sex and drugs, and Almodóvar is one of the most influential directors of his time. The Spanish filmmaker will be in charge of deciding who goes home with the Golden Palm in May.

Pedro Almodovar
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Though he's a long-time darling in Cannes, Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar has never won its top prize, the Palme d'Or, himself. Now, however, he has gotten an even better "prize." The festival said Tuesday that Almodóvar would take the reigns of the yet-to-be-named jury.

Born 67 years ago in what was then the Francisco Franco dictatorship, Almodóvar is known for depicting a freer, more colorful version of Spain in some 20 films laden with humor, drugs and sex.

As a leader of the "Movida" - a creative movement that took root after the death of Franco in 1975 - Almodóvar also helped shape the more liberal Spain he portrays on screen.

Almodóvar's international breakthrough came in 1988 with "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," which was nominated for an Oscar. The dark comedy portrays a love-sick woman whose home becomes the backdrop for hostage situations and drug overdoses.

The film was about "masochism, homosexuality, masturbation, drugs, porn and attacks against religion," Almodóvar, who is openly gay, later said. "All of these themes that are considered taboo belong to my life - I don't consider them to be prohibited or scandalous."

The director went on to win two Oscars. "All About My Mother" (1999), about a mother's search for her dead son's transvestite father, took the Academy Award for best foreign language film, and "Talk to Her" (2002), portraying two men caring for two women in a coma, won best screenplay.

Almodóvar, who always refused to go to Hollywood, was among the first directors to include transsexuals and transvestites in his movies.

In December 2016, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has reserved a section for film since 1935, offering large exhibitions and carefully curated retrospectives, honored Almodóvar with an exhibition. The director himself was on hand to present his latest film and discuss previous works. (Click through the gallery below for a look back at the show.)

Now Almodóvar will be taking a key role in Cannes, where five of his films have been shown in competition over the years. The international film festival takes place from May 17-28.

kbm/eg (APF, dpa)

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