PROFILE
Name:
Alejandro Amenabar
Birth Date:
March 31, 1972
Birth Place:
Santiago de Chile, Chile
Nationality:
Chilean
Famous for:
The Others' (2001)
BIOGRAPHY
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Director of The Others

Background:

“My movies are not movies of answers but of questions.” Alejandro Amenabar

Chilean/Spanish filmmaker and composer Alejandro Amenabar made an auspicious directorial debut with “Thesis” (1996), which brought the first timer his first two Goya Awards, among other awards. He gained further recognition with his next feature film, “Open Your Eyes” (1997), which was adapted into the popular American version “Vanilla Sky” (2001), directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Tom Cruise. Amenabar, however, did not really hit the big time in Hollywood until he wrote and directed “The Others” (2001), which starred Nicole Kidman. The movie was a huge box office success and brought him several awards and nominations, including two Goya Awards, an Online Film Critics Award, an ASCAP Film and Television Music Award, and an Empire Award. Amenabar returned to Spanish cinema with the Javier Bardem starring biopic “The Sea Inside” (Mar adentro, 2004), which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and 14 Goya Awards. He was also handed an Independent Spirit Award, the Grand Special Jury Prize at the Venice International Film Festival and a César nomination, among other honors, for the film. His latest film, “Agora,” was released in Spain in October 2009.

Besides “The Others,” Amenabar has written the scripts of all his films with Mateo Gil. He also provided the scores for Gil's film “Nadie conoce a nadie” (1999) and the critically acclaimed “La lengua de las mariposas,” by José Luis Cuerda.


Chile

Childhood and Family:

Alejandro Fernando Amenábar Cantos, who would later be popular as Alejandro Amenabar, was born on March 31, 1972, in Santiago, Chile, to a Chilean father and a Spanish mother. His family relocated to Madrid, Spain, in 1973 when Alejandro was barely a year old. A creative child, Alejandro began composing guitar music that was later used to accompany short stories he wrote. He began piano lessons at age 10.

Although he dreamed of becoming a musician or an illustrator, after high school Alejandro decided to major in audiovisual communication at the prestigious Information Sciences Faculty off Complutense University in Madrid. However, he left school because of disappointing grades. It was while at college he met his future writing partner Mateo Gil.


The Sea Inside

Career:

Alejandro Amenabar made his debut as a director and writer with “Himenóptero” (1992), a 33 minute surprising thriller that he also composed the score for, edited and acted in (as Bosco). Three years later, he wrote and directed the short thriller “Luna” (1995), which brought Eduardo Noriega a Caja de Madrid' Award for Best Actor (Mejor Interpretación Masculina).

While still at college, Amenabar collaborated with Mateo Gil on a script about a female film student who discovers what seems to be a snuff film. Thanks to the encouragement of film director/screenwriter/producer Jose Luis Cuerda, Amenabar developed the script into a feature film in 1996 titled “Tesis” (Thesis), with Amenabar directing, composing the score and sharing writing credits with Gil. Starring Fele Martínez, Eduardo Noriega, and Ana Torrent, the thriller was a huge hit in Spain and won many awards. For his efforts, Amenabar was handed two Goyas (the Spanish equivalent of the Oscar) for Best New Director (Mejor Director Novel) and Best Screenplay - Original (Mejor Guión Original), a Cinema Writers Circle (CWC) Award for Best New Artist (Premio Revelación), the Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Silver at the 1997 Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film, an Audience Award for Best Film at the 1997 Sant Jordi Awards, an Audience Award at the 1997 Valdivia International Film Festival and a Film Award for Best Director (Mejor Director) at the 1996 Ondas Awards. He also received a Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Gold nomination at 1997's Fantasporto, among other nominations.

Amenabar resurfaced in 1997 with his second feature film, “Abre los ojos” (Open Your Eyes), which he again co-wrote with Gil and also composed the score. The fantasy thriller was generally well received by critics and caught the attention of Hollywood heavyweight Tom Cruise when it screened at the World Cinema section of the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. Cruise secured the rights for an American version and the remake “Vanilla Sky” (2001) was a success at the box office. Amenabar picked up Goya nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay - Original, a C.I.C.A.E. Award - Honorable Mention at the 1998 Berlin International Film Festival, a Canal22 Best Ibero-American Film Award at the 1999 Guadalajara Mexican Film Festival, a Cinemania Award at the 1998 Ondas Awards, a Tokyo Grand Prix at the 1998 Tokyo International Film Festival and a Student Jury Award - Special Mention at the 1998 Toulouse Cinespaña for “Abre los ojos.”

The musically talented Amenabar left the director's chair for a time during the late 1990s to compose the scores for the films “Nadie conoce a nadie” (Nobody Knows Anybody) and “La lengua de las mariposas” (Butterfly Tongues, both 1999), which was directed by Mateo Gil and José Luis Cuerda, respectively. He was nominated for a Goya for Best Original Score (Mejor Música Original) for the latter.

Amenabar next scored a massive box office hit with “The Others” (2001), his English language debut. Executive produced by Tom Cruise and starring Nicole Kidman, the psychological horror film, which cost $17 million to produce, had a worldwide total gross of over $209 million. It was also a success with critics and Amenabar took home an ASCAP Film and Television Music for Top Box Office Films, two Cinema Writers Circles for Best Director and Best Screenplay, Original, an Independent Spirit Award from U.K.'s Empire Awards, two Goyas for Best Director and Best Screenplay - Original (Mejor Guión Original), an Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) for Best Screenplay, Original and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2001 Flanders International Film Festival, not to mention ALMA nominations for Outstanding Director in a Motion Picture and Outstanding Screenplay, Saturn nominations for Best Director and Best Writing, a BAFTA nomination for Best Screenplay - Original, a Bram Stoker nomination for Best Screenplay, a CEC nomination for Best Original Score, Goya nominations for Best Screenplay - Original and Best Original Score, a Phoenix Film Critics Society nomination for Best Screenplay - Original, a Golden Satellite nomination for Best Screenplay, Original and a Golden Lion nomination at the 2001 Venice Film Festival.

Back to Spanish cinema, Amenabar directed, co-wrote (with Gil) and produced “Mar adentro” (The Sea Inside, 2004), which was based on the real life story of Ramon Sampedro, a Spanish ship mechanic left quadriplegic after a diving accident. The emotional drama nabbed the 2004 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film of the Year, the 2004 Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and 14 Goya Awards, including Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Original Score for Amenabar. Other awards Amenabar received included an Independent Spirit for Best Foreign Film, a Grand Special Jury Prize and Young Cinema Award at the 2004 Venice Film Festival, a David di Donatello for Best European Film, an European Film for Best Director, a Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA) for Best Foreign Language Film, an Audience Award at the 2005 Palm Springs International Film Festival, an Audience Award for Best Spanish Film and Best Film from the Sant Jordi Awards, and a Hollywood European Award, among others. He also earned a César nomination in the category of Best Foreign Film, a European Film nomination for Best Screenwriter, the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion nomination and a World Soundtrack nomination for Best Original Soundtrack of the Year.

Recently, Amenabar co-wrote and directed the historical film “Agora.” Starring Rachel Weisz and Max Minghella, the film was screened at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and received a theatrical release in Spain on October 9, 2009. The general release of the film is scheduled to begin on December 18, 2009. Also in 2009, he served as a producer for the dramatic film “El mal ajeno.”

Amenabar also produced the short film “El soñador” (2004), which was directed by Óskar Santos Gómez, and composed the score for the documentary film “Un viaje mar adentro” (2005, TV). He also had a cameo role in Gil's “Películas para no dormir: Regreso a Moira” (2006, TV).


Awards:

  • Argentinean Film Critics Association: Silver Condor, Best Foreign Film, Spanish Language (Mejor Película Iberoamericana), “Mar adentro,” 2006

  • Antena de Oro (Spain): Cinema, 2005

  • Bangkok International Film Festival: Golden Kinnaree Award, Best Film, “Mar adentro,” 2005

  • David di Donatello: David, Best European Film (Miglior Film dell, Unione Europea), “Mar adentro,” 2005

  • Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA): Best Foreign Language Film, “Mar adentro,” 2005

  • Fotogramas de Plata: Best Film (Mejor Película Española), “Mar adentro,” 2005

  • Goya: Best Director (Mejor Director), “Mar adentro,” 2005

  • Goya: Best Original Score (Mejor Música Original), “Mar adentro,” 2005

  • Goya: Best Screenplay - Original (Mejor Guión Original), “Mar adentro,” 2005

  • Guild of German Art House Cinemas: Guild Film Award - Gold, Foreign Film (Ausländischer Film), “Mar adentro,” 2005

  • Independent Spirit: Best Foreign Film, “Mar adentro,” 2005

  • Nantes Spanish Film Festival: Audience Award, “Mar adentro,” 2005

  • Palm Springs International Film Festival: Audience Award, “Mar adentro,” 2005

  • Sant Jordi: Audience Award, Best Spanish Film (Mejor Película Española), “Mar adentro,” 2005

  • Sant Jordi: Best Film (Mejor Película Española), “Mar adentro,” 2005

  • Sofia International Film Festival: Audience Award, “Mar adentro,” 2005

  • Sofia International Film Festival: Audience Award 'Silver Sea-Gull,' “Mar adentro,” 2005

  • Spanish Music: Music Award, Best Score (Mejor Álbum de Banda Sonora de Obra Cinematográfica), “Mar adentro,” 2005

  • Turia: Audience Award, Best Spanish Film, “Mar adentro,” 2005

  • European Film: Best Director, “Mar adentro,” 2004

  • Hollywood Film Festival: Hollywood European Award, “Mar adentro,” 2004

  • Ondas: Cinemania Award, “Mar adentro,” 2004

  • Sudbury Cinéfest: Audience Award, “Mar adentro,” 2004

  • Venice Film Festival: Grand Special Jury Prize, “Mar adentro,” 2004

  • Venice Film Festival: Young Cinema Award, Best International Film, “Mar adentro,” 2004

  • ASCAP Film and Television Music: Top Box Office Films, “The Others,” 2002

  • Cinema Writers Circle (CEC): Best Director (Mejor Director), “The Others,” 2002

  • Cinema Writers Circle (CEC): Best Screenplay, Original (Mejor Guión Original), “The Others,” 2002

  • Empire: Independent Spirit Award, “The Others,” 2002

  • Goya: Best Director (Mejor Director), “The Others,” 2002

  • Goya: Best Screenplay - Original (Mejor Guión Original), “The Others,” 2002

  • Online Film Critics Society (OFCS): Best Screenplay, Original, “The Others,” 2002

  • Flanders International Film Festival: FIPRESCI Prize, “The Others,” 2001

  • Guadalajara Mexican Film Festival: Canal22 Best Ibero-American Film Award, “Abre los ojos,” 1999

  • Berlin International Film Festival: C.I.C.A.E. Award - Honorable Mention, Panorama, For Outstanding Direction, “Abre los ojos,” 1998

  • Ondas: Cinemania Award, 1998

  • Tokyo International Film Festival: Tokyo Grand Prix, “Abre los ojos,” 1998

  • Toulouse Cinespaña: Student Jury Award - Special Mention, “Abre los ojos,” 1998

  • Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film: Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Silver, “Tesis,” 1997

  • Cinema Writers Circle (CEC): Best New Artist (Premio Revelación), “Tesis,” 1997

  • Goya: Best New Director (Mejor Director Novel), “Tesis,” 1997

  • Goya: Best Screenplay - Original (Mejor Guión Original), “Tesis,” 1997

  • Sant Jordi: Audience Award, Best Film (Mejor Película Española), “Tesis,” 1997

  • Valdivia International Film Festival: Audience Award, “Tesis,” 1997

  • Ondas: Film Award, Best Director (Mejor Director), “ Tesis,” 1996

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