With only a pair of thrillers under his belt, Chilean-born filmmaker Alejandro Amenabar (he and his family fled the dictator Pinochet in 1973 and settled in Spain) was already considered a wunderkind...
Family fled military dictatorship of Pinochet in Chile; settled in Madrid, Spain
At age 10, began studying piano
Made first short film, the thriller "Himenoptero"
Composed the the scores for the acclaimed film "Butterfly/La Lengua de las mariposas", directed by Jose Luis Cuerda, and for "Nadie conoce a nadie/Nobody Knows Anything", directed by Mateo Gil and starring Eduardo Noriega
Penned the music for Mateo Gil's short thriller "Allanamiento de morada"; Noriega co-starred
Directed, co-wrote (with Gil) and composed the score for the fantasy thriller "Abre los Ojos/Open Your Eyes"; screened at the World Cinema section of the 1998 Sundance Film Festival; Noriega starred as a man left disfigured after an accident; Penelope Cru
Wrote and directed the short thriller "Luna"; first collaboration with actor Eduardo Noreiga
Co-wrote (with Mateo Gil), directed and composed the score for debut feature "Tesis/Thesis", starring Ana Torrent and Eduardo Noriega; film produced by Jose Luis Cuerda
As a child, began composing music on guitar to accompany short stories he had written
Wrote and directed the film "The Sea Inside" based on the real life story of spaniard Ramon Sampedro who fought a 30 year campaign in favor of Euthanasia and his own right to die
English-language directorial debut, "The Others", starring Nicole Kidman and executive produced by Tom Cruise; also wrote the screenplay and composed the score
With only a pair of thrillers under his belt, Chilean-born filmmaker Alejandro Amenabar (he and his family fled the dictator Pinochet in 1973 and settled in Spain) was already considered a wunderkind in Spain when he successfully crossed over to English-language films with the subtle and atmospheric horror film, "The Others" (2001). As part of an invasion of Latin filmmakers-which includes Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Alfonso Cuaron, and Walter Salles-Amenabar has added to an impressive array of foreign films that were some of the best in the world. Though he has only a handful of films under his belt-all rely on thought-provoking suspense and surprising twists-Amenabar has emerged as the obvious heir to the master, Alfred Hitchcock.<p>Amenabar demonstrated his creativity early in life. As a child, he composed guitar music that was later played to accompany short stories he wrote. By age 10, he was studying piano, and was considering a career as a musician or an illustrator. On a lark, he enrolled in film studies at the University of Madrid and began making short films-ironically, he failed his courses. While still an undergraduate, he collaborated on a screenplay with Mateo Gil about a cinema student who discovers what appears to be a snuff film. The script caught the attention of veteran director Jose Luis Cuerda, who encouraged Amenabar to make the feature "Thesis" (a.k.a. "Tesis", 1996). The resulting movie earned widespread acclaim in Spain, won several Goyas-the Spanish equivalent of the Oscar-and announced the arrival of a potent new voice in Spanish cinema.<p>With his follow-up feature, also co-written with Gil, "Open Your Eyes" (a.k.a. "Abre los Ojos", 1997), Amenabar solidified his standing. Because the film-which was tinged with science fiction and fantasy-did not delve into Spanish history or examine the faults and failings of contemporary people, some rejected it. More open-minded audiences and critics, however, were rewarded with a strong narrative, solid production values and terrific lead performances from Penelope Cruz and Eduardo Noriega, who was a frequent collaborator with the director. "Open Your Eyes" centered on a playboy (Noriega) who survives a horrific car crash and finds himself caught in a world that may or may not be real. The film was praised at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and caught the eye of actor-producer Tom Cruise, who secured the remake rights and later starred in Cameron Crowe's version, "Vanilla Sky" (2001). Cruise also served as executive producer of Amenabar's English-language debut, "The Others", which featured Nicole Kidman in a bravura lead performance as a high-strung woman who inhabits a large mansion on the remote Isle of Jersey during WWII. "The Others" did extraordinary business at the box office, thus solidifying Amenabar's place at the Hollywood table.<p>Before segueing to his American debut, Amenabar provided the lilting underscores for two 1999 films made by close collaborators. He penned the music for "Butterfly" (a.k.a. "La Lengua de las mariposas"), directed by Jose Luis Cuerda, and for "Nobody Knows Anything" (a.k.a. "Nadie conoce a nadie"), directed by friend and frequent collaborator, Mateo Gil. Amenabar returned to making films in Spain with "The Sea Inside" (2004), an emotional tale about the 30 year struggle of Spaniard Ramon Sampedro (Javier Bardem) to end his life with dignity. The film won several awards, including a Golden Globe and the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
"I'm not really terrified by the possibility of seeing a ghost. It is human beings-and the things they're capable of-that really scare me." --Alejandro Amenabar quoted in Los Angeles Times, August 8, 2001.
"Alejandro has got a lot of depth, he's very smart and he has integrity in the way Stanley (Kubrick) had integrity. It's unusual, too, for a director to have such storng belief in his actors. It would have been so easy to fill ['The Others'] with special effects." --actress Nicole Kidman quoted by Anthony Breznican of the Associated Press, August 8, 2001.
"Eventually I'd love to free myself from surprise endings. Hitchcock didn't like them. He avoided them as much as he could. But I can't seem to shake them off. A big discovery at the end of the picture helps me guide my protagonist to the culmination of the journey, to the lesson that's waiting to be learned." --Amenabar to Los Angeles Times, August 8, 2001.
"For me, the hardest part of the process is writing and composing. Directing is just suffering too much work every day, but it doesn't really demand a creative point of view. When I write, I'm thinking of the music. Sometimes, I even compose previous to the shooting of the film. That really helps me have a whole vision of the story, a whole technical concept." --Amenabar quoted in The Hollywood Reporter, August 7-13, 2001.