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Barcelona-born film director, screenwriter and producer Vicente Aranda dies at 88

The Spanish Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced on Tuesday the death of Vicente Aranda, who has passed away in Madrid at the age of 88. Aranda was a renowned Barcelona-born film director, screenwriter and producer and one of the founding members of the so-called 'Barcelona School of Film', a group of Catalan filmmakers during the 1960’s concerned about how cinema was portraying unexpected events in daily life, with a pop-culture style. Born in the Catalan capital in 1926, during the course of his career Aranda won two Goya Awards, the Spanish Academy's equivalent of the Oscars. He directed many films including 'Amantes' (in English, 'Lovers', 1991), 'La Passión Turca' ('The Turkish Passion', 1994), and 'Juana la loca' ('Mad Love', 2001), among others. Among the key themes of his work are: the exploration of social issues, love as uncontrollable passion, eroticism and cruelty.

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26 May 2015 09:20 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The Spanish Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced on Tuesday the death of Vicente Aranda, who has passed away in Madrid at the age of 88. Aranda was a renowned Barcelona-born film director, screenwriter and producer and one of the founding members of the so-called 'Barcelona School of Film', a group of Catalan filmmakers during the 1960’s concerned about how cinema was portraying unexpected events in daily life, with a pop-culture style. Born in the Catalan capital in 1926, during the course of his career Aranda won two Goya Awards, the Spanish Academy's equivalent of the Oscars. He directed many films including 'Amantes' (in English, 'Lovers', 1991), 'La Passión Turca' ('The Turkish Passion', 1994), and 'Juana la loca' ('Mad Love', 2001), among others. Among the key themes of his work are: the exploration of social issues, love as uncontrollable passion, eroticism and cruelty.


At a very young age, Aranda had to interrupt his studies because of the Spanish Civil War, then lived in Venezuela with his brother in the early 1950’s. There, he worked for a few years, before returning to Spain in 1956 to pursue a career in film.  After several failed attempts and having been rejected by Madrid’s School of Cinema, because he was lacking a high school diploma, he finally made his directorial debut in 1964 (at the age of 38) with the film 'Brillante porvenir' (also known as 'Bright Future'), co-directed with Romà Gubern.

However, it was his second film 'Fata morgana' (1965) – which starred the Catalan actress and model Teresa Gimpera – which earned him fame and critical response. Gimpera was at the time an icon of the so-called 'Gauche Divine', a group of left-wing bourgeois intellectuals, who were leading Barcelona's anti-Franco cultural circles of the 1960s and 1970s, inspired by the French Nouvelle Vague. After this first success, Aranda then went on to found his own production company, Morgana Film.            

Aranda was famous for bringing Spanish novels to life on the big screen

The Barcelona-born filmmaker directed around 30 films during his career. Among the most famous are: 'La novia ensangrentada' ('The Blood Spattered Bride', 1972), 'Cambio de sexo' ('Sex Change', 1976), with Victoria Abril as leading actress, and two films about Spain's most wanted criminal 'El lute' ('The Lute', 1987 and 1988). He also became famous for bringing contemporary Spanish novels to life on the big screen, such as in: 'La muchacha de las bragas de oro' (also known as 'Girl with the Golden Panties'), 'Si te dicen que caí' (in English, 'If They Tell You I Fell') and 'El amante bilingüe' ('The Bilingual Lover'), all based on works by the Barcelona-born novelist Juan Marsé.

Other notable Spanish writers Aranda's films took inspiration from include: Manuel Vázquez Montalbán (in 'Asesinato en el Comité Central', 1982); Luis Martín Santos ('Tiempo de silencio', 1986); Jesús Fernández Santos (in 'Los jinetes del Alba', 1990); and Antonio Gala ('La pasión turca', 1994).

'Amantes' won two Goya Awards for Best Picture and Best Director

During the 1990s, Aranda's major success was 'Amantes' ('Lovers', 1991) which won two Goya Awards, for Best Picture and Best Director. The movie was also screened at the 41st Berlin International Film Festival. He also directed 'Libertarias' (in English, 'Freedomfighters', 1996), 'La mirada del otro' ('The Naked Eye', 1998) and 'Celos' (' Jealousy', 1999). Among his most recent works are: 'Juana la loca' ('Mad Love', 2001) and Carmen (2002), based on the novel by Prosper Mérimée. His last film was Luna Caliente ('Hot Moon', 2009), after which he retired from directing.

The President of the Spanish Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, Antonio Resines, commented on Twitter on the death of the Catalan director saying, “one of the greats has left us”. Aranda's remains will be cremated on Wednesday in Madrid, where he was living.

"One of the greatest in Catalan and Spanish cinema", Catalan Minister says

Expressing his grief for the death of the Barcelona-born filmmaker, the Catalan Minister for Culture, Ferran Mascarell, highlighted that "Vicente Aranda has been one of the greatest [names] in Catalan and Spanish cinema". "A person who began [his career] within the realm of the most committed cinema, the most counter-cultural cinema, following in some way the trends that were arriving from Europe, particularly from France", Mascarell said. "Later on, he knew how to find his way into what we could call a prestigious blockbuster cinema, cinema with quality, well done. From this point of view, he had an extremely notorious impact on cinematography", he added.

According to the Catalan Culture Minister, "[Aranda] was one of the people who introduced through images all the novelties and changes, in all social areas, that were taking place in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s". The Barcelona-born director "was highly praised in Catalonia. He decided to move to Madrid because the film industry was based there", Mascarell underlined. "But here everyone recognises his value as film director", he concluded.

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  • Barcelona-born film director, Vicente Aranda (by Academia Española del Cine)

  • Barcelona-born film director, Vicente Aranda (by Academia Española del Cine)
Catalan Minister for Culture, Ferran Mascarell, expressing his grief for Vicente Aranda's death