HOUSTON VOICE • JANUARY 7, 2000
OUT ON THE BAYOU
allaabout • ,
> Continued from page 15
Almodovar's latest film, "All About My
Mother," certainly does just that.
The film recently dominated Spain's
Goya cinema awards with 14 nominations,
including best actress, best director and
best picture. The winners will be
announced Jan. 29.
The movie, which won an award for best
director at the Cannes Film Festival in May,
is the story of a single woman whose son
dies and her search for the boy's father.
Manuela, played by Argentine Cecilia
Roth, is accompanied by a handful of other
female characters, including an aging lesbian actress, a fransvestite homemaker and
a nun with the HIV virus.
"It's really Pedro's most mainstream film
to date," actor Antonio Banderas, who was
"discovered" by Almodovar, stated in a
recent interview. "And by 'mainstream,' I
don't mean he has gone out of his way to
make something commercial in order to sell
more tickets. It's mainstream in the way
that it can touch so many souls, regardless
of who they are. You don't have to be a
fransvestite to understand the feelings of
Inspired by the Bette Davis classic "All
About Eve," Almodovar began writing "All
About My Mother" shortly after complet
ing production on his 1995 film "The
Flower Of My Secret."
"There's a character in that movie, a
nurse named Manuela, who appears just in
the beginning," Almodovar said. "In so
many situations, she has to become an
actress: to the doctors she works with and
to people she has to attend to. So, my idea
was to make a movie about the capacity to
act of certain people who are not actors.
And what is acting anyway? It's just the
ability to fake things really well."
From an early age, Almodovar discovered that the best "actors" always seemed
to be women.
"As a child, I remembered seeing that
quality in some of the women in my family," he said. "They faked more and better
than men. And through their lies, they
managed to avoid more than one tragedy.
The women really resolved their problems,
in silence, having sometimes to lie in order
to do so. They faked, lied, hid ... and by
doing so, allowed life to flow and develop,
without men finding out or obstructing it."
But "All About My Mother" harbors
much deeper messages, Almodovar said.
"It's really about wounded maternity,
and the spontaneous solidarity between
women," he said. "There's a line in
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Tennessee Williams' 'A Streetcar Named
Desire' where Blanche Dubois says, T have
always depended in the kindness of
strangers.' In 'All About My Mother,'
women are those kind strangers. Like most
of my films, this one is kind of a salute, a
tribute to women and their strength."
Raised in a country ruled by "machismo,"
Almodovar said he has always used his
films to celebrate females and femininity.
"Femininity is an important part of all
of us, whether men would like to admit
that or not," he said. "So, as a filmmaker,
I feel like it is my responsibility to
express that. In my early films, people
thought I was I was just trying to make
subversive, gay movies by having homosexuals and drag queens in them. They
were just missing the point.
"Don't get me wrong, Spain is not the
most open-minded country in the world,
not by a long shot," he said, "but I think my
films have had some impact when it comes
to acceptance of alternative lifestyles."
So why, then, is Almodovar so sensitive
about discussing his own sexuality?
"A lot of people begin to confuse your
work with your real life," he said. "Like I
said, I'm not ashamed of who I am—morally or sexually. But what if I wanted to make
Cecilia Roth as Manuela in 'All About My
Mother/ a critically acclaimed film that tells the
story of a single woman whose son dies and
her search for the boy's father.
a children's movie? I don't think that's very
likely, but what if I did want to do one?
Would people let their children go see it if it
was done by 'Pedro Almodovar, the gay
director?' Probably not. So, by labeling
myself this or that, I can limit my abilities to