We use cookies to improve the user experience of our website. Cookie Get More Information

Home » Culture » Spain » Spanish Cinema » Spanish Cinema

History of Spanish Cinema

History of Spanish Cinema

Learn the History of Spanish Cinema. Spanish cinema will keep evolving and adapting to the times with renowned and prestigious actors and film directors.

In 1895 the first Spanish film exhibition took place in Barcelona and by 1916 the city was the center of Spain's silent film industry. The first Spanish film society was founded in Madrid in 1928 and it became the new film industry center. At the time, historical epic films were the most common and would dominate the market until the 1960s. The year 1931 saw the introduction of sound in foreign productions which severely affected the Spanish film industry (only one movie came out that year) until Cifesa Company (Spanish Industrial Film Company Inc) introduced sound to Spanish cinema. Cifesa would become the biggest production company in Spain and in 1974 produced the movie Don Quijote de La Mancha, the most elaborate film of Cervantes' classic up until that time.

During the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s, propaganda and censorship was introduced into Spanish cinema El cid, The Fall of the Roman Empire and Lawrence of Arabia.

With the end of the Franco's dictatorship in 1975, the censorship on films was greatly loosened beginning an era of Spanish filmmakers dedicated to controversial topics during the period known as la movida. Democracy in Spain has permitted Spanish films to evolve and adapt over the years and Spanish cinema has become known for its sophisticated melodramas (Almodóvar and Alex de la Iglesía), black humor (Santiago Segura) and versatility (Amenábar).

Luis Buñuel was the first Spaniard to ever achieve international recognition but in recent years, Spanish cinema has been gaining ground for its creative and technical excellence. Pedro Almodóvar became critically acclaimed in the 1980s and other important directors include: Segundo de Chomón, Florián Rey, Luis García Berlanga, Juan Antonio Bardem, Carlos Saura, Julio Médem and Alejandro Amenábar. Many famous Spanish actors and actresses have also obtained international notoriety such as: Antonio Banderas, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Maribel Verdú, Paz Vega, Fernando Fernán Gómez, Fernando Rey and Francisco Rabal.

Agora, by Alejandro Amenábar, Ché, The Machinist, The Others (starring Nicole Kidman) and Milo Forman´s Goya´s Ghosts. Planet 51, an animated Spanish film dubbed in English and also the most expensive movie ever produced in Spain, debuted internationally in 2009. The movie set the record that year in box office sales for a Spanish film and also won a Goya Award for Best Animated Film.

However, some famous Spanish films in their original language have also managed to stand their ground internationally and have landed on the list of the top grossing Spanish-language movies in the US such as: Pan's Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro and starring Maribel Verdú Talk to Her, All about My Mother, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Bad Education and Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! all by Pedro Almodóvar. Also, Alejandro Amenábar's film The Sea Inside, starring Javier Bardem, won an Oscar in 2004 for best foreign film in 2004. In 2006, another Almodóvar film called Volver won awards at the Cannes Film Festival and received various nominations for Golden Globes. Penélope Cruz, the lead character, was nominated for an Academy Award for best actress for her role in the movie.

Spanish cinema will keep evolving and adapting to the times and, even if you are not aware, the next film you watch could very well be from Spain. In 2002 Woody Allen, a famous American filmmaker, commented: “when I left New York, the most exciting film in the city at the time was Spanish, Pedro Almodovar's one [Talk to Her]. I hope that Europeans will continue to lead the way in film making because at the moment not much is coming from the United States."