Spanish director Carlos Saura has died at home in Spain at the age of 91.
The filmmaker was one of Spain’s most renowned filmmakers alongside Luis Buñuel and Pedro Almodóvar.
The Spanish Cinema Academy said the director had died at his home surrounded by loved ones and described him as “one of the most important filmmakers in the history of Spanish cinema.”
Saura began his filmmaking career in the 1950s making short documentaries.
He broke out internationally with The Hunt, which world premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 1966, winning the Silver Bear for Best Director. The drama tackled the legacy of the Spanish Civil War through the tale of three middle-age veterans as they reminisce about their experiences while on a rabbit-hunting trip. Sam Peckinpah described it as a classic of Spanish cinema and a major influence on his work.
Born on January 4, 1932, in Huesca in northeastern Spain, Saura was just 4 years old when the Spanish Civil War broke out.
His early childhood was profoundly impacted by the ravages of the conflict, and later he also gained a reputation as a brave critic of the Franco regime, using symbolism and allegory in his films to avoid censorship.
He became a regular at Berlin, winning the Golden Bear for Deprisa, Deprisa in 1981 after having clinched a second Silver Bear in 1967 for Peppermint Frappé.
Saura was also a Cannes regular but never won its coveted Palme d’Or.
He made his debut there in 1960 with The Delinquents and went in to win the Jury Prize for La Prima Angélica in 1974, the Grand Prize of the Jury for Cria Cuervos in 1976 and the now-defunct Grand Prix Technique for his Oscar-nominated Carmen in 1983 — his Flamenco-style adaptation of Prosper Mérimée’s novel using music from Georges Bizet’s opera.
He also went down in the annals of Cannes history when the screening of Peppermint Frappé in 1968 was disrupted by a group of New Wave directors led by François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard who burst into the auditorium, demanding that it be stopped out of solidarity for the popular worker and student protests.
An account of the event on the Cannes website recounts that Saura “graciously agreed to have his film ‘stand aside to make way for the revolution.'”
Saura never retired and his film The Walls Can Talk (Las paredes hablan) premiered at San Sebastian in September. However, the director had to abandon his plans to attend the screening after he suffered a minor fall.
The documentary explored the evolution and relationship of art with walls as a creative canvas, from prehistoric art on cave walls to contemporary urban art, through Saura’s singular point of view.
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