Pedro Almodóvar (Q&A): 2011 AFI Fest

By Meredith Alloway · November 9, 2011

A swarm of people floods into the Chinese Theatre, looking for open seats; quite a turn out for one of the few films at the 2011 AFI Film Festival previously released. I’d never been in the Chinese Mann Theatre before; I try to stay far away from Hollywood Blvd, but it’s absolutely gorgeous. Somehow knowing that so many brilliant people are crammed into one place makes it even more magnificent.

Pedro Almodóvar, guest artistic director of AFI this year, will be screening his 1987 film Law of Desire. It was one of his first feature films, and also gave rise to the young Antonio Banderas’ career.

Pedro comes out in front of the big screen to uproarious applause and sits down with his interpreter to have a short discussion before the film is screened. The interviewer asks him about his views on genre. His new film The Skin I Live In, about a plastic surgeon that creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage, using a mysterious woman as his guinea pig and muse, blurs the lines of genre boundaries.

Pedro remarks that the majority of his films, including Law of Desire and The Skin I Live In, combine the sex genre and drama genre. “I pass through many different genres in my life. I pass through comedy, sex, war – it makes my movies like real life.”

He is also asked about his brother Agustin, who has produced almost all of Pedro’s films as well as co-founded, along with Pedro, the Spanish production company El Deseo S.A.

“AFI celebrates the birth of my production company, my brother, and I,” Pedro replies, “My dream in the beginning was to shoot enough material to edit the story I wanted to tell. And to pay the actors.” Over laughter he shouts a greeting to Antonio Banderas and comments that he, “was always naked in the 80s. He was a big part of my career. “

Pedro continues to pay tribute, “I often get the sense my brother is here to protect me as the best producer I could have dreamed of. He protects me from the industry, he’s conscious of what I want to do because it’s his goal. When we started with this film [Law of Desire] it was a difficult task, although life has been very generous with us. It wasn’t the kind of film the Spanish people wanted to be seeing, so it was difficult.” The film deals graphically with homosexual and psychopathic relationships, both between women and men.

Pedro is asked about his continual fascination with sex and desire in his art. He comments, “I think in real life desire it one of he biggest driving factors. It requires a price worth paying. I can’t conceive a life without desiring and being desired. All these feelings are part of life and give it sense; actually they don’t because life makes no sense.” The audience laughs in agreement. Pedro’s films continue to remain potent and relatable because of his devotion to illustrating life as truthfully as possible, keeping in both the humorous and the tragic.