Carlos Saura

Carlos Saura

Carlos Saura in Calanda (2008)
Born Carlos Saura Atarés
(1932-01-04) 4 January 1932
Huesca, Spain
Occupation Film director, screenwriter, photographer
Years active 1955–present
Notable work
Relatives Antonio Saura (brother)

Carlos Saura Atarés (born 4 January 1932) is a Spanish film director, photographer and writer from Aragon. His name, with those of Luis Buñuel and Pedro Almodóvar forms a triad of Spain’s most renowned filmmakers. He has a long and prolific career that expands for over half a century. A great numbers of his films have won many international awards.

Saura began his career in 1955 making documentaries shorts. He quickly gained international prominence when his first feature length film premiered at Cannes in 1960. Although he started filming as a neo-realist, Saura quickly switched to films encoded with metaphors and symbolisms in order to get around the Spanish censors. In 1966, he was thrust into the international spotlight when his film La caza won the Silver Bear at Berlin. In the following years he forged an international reputation for his cinematic treatment of emotional and spiritual responses to repressive political conditions.

By the 1970s, Saura was the best known filmmaker working in Spain. His film employed complex narrative devices and were frequently controversial. He won Special Jury Awards for La prima Angélica (1973) and Cría cuervos (1975) in Cannes; and an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film in 1979 for Mama cumple 100 años. In the 1980s he was in the spotlight for his Flamenco trilogy – Blood wedding, Carmen, and Love Bewitched. He continued to appear in world wide competitions earning numerous awards. He received Oscar nominations for Carmen (1983) and Tango (1993). His films are sophisticated expression of time and space fusing reality with fantasy, past with present and memory with hallucination. In the last two decades, Saura has concentrated in works uniting music, dance and images.

Early life

Saura was born in Huesca, Aragón, Spain on 4 January 1932. His father, Antonio Saura Pacheco, who came from Murcia, was an attorney and civil servant. His mother, Fermina Atares Torrente, was a concert pianist. The second of their four children, Carlos had two younger sisters Pilar and Angeles and an older brother Antonio Saura, who became a well known abstract expressionist painter. From their parents, the four siblings received a liberal understanding education. Because his father was working for the ministry of interior, the Saura family moved to Barcelona, Valencia and in 1953 to Madrid. Saura’s childhood was marked by the Spanish Civil War, during which Franco and his allies rebelled against the established republican government. Saura has vivid recollection of his childhood during the war, some of them later evoked in his films – the games he played, and the songs he sang, as well as darker memories of bombing and hunger, blood and death. He was taught to read by a priest – a relative whom his parents sheltered from anticlerical extremist. At the war’s end Saura was separated from his parents and sent back to live with his maternal grandmother and aunts in Huesca. He described these relatives as “right wings and very religious” who imposed in the child the very antithesis of the kind of liberal education he had received in the republican zone.


In 1957-1958, Saura created his first film (Cuenca). In 1962 his film Los Golfos was recognized for its strong sociological impact in the betterment of the Spanish youth by tackling juvenile delinquency in Madrid's poorest districts. Four years later (1966), he was honored at the 16th Berlin International Film Festival, where he received the Silver Bear for Best Director for his film La caza.[1] In 1967, his film Peppermint Frappé also received the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 18th Berlin International Film Festival.[2] He won the Golden Bear in 1981 at the 31st Berlin International Film Festival for his film Deprisa, Deprisa.[3]

The films La prima Angélica (Cousin Angélica) of 1973 and Cría cuervos (Raising Ravens [from the Spanish phrase: Cria cuervos y te sacaran los ojos (Raise ravens and they will peck out your eyes)]) of 1975 received the special prize of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival. His film Mama cumple 100 años (Mom is celebrating her 100 years) was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1980 Academy Awards.[4]

Saura later become known for movies featuring flamenco and other traditional dances. His Flamenco Trilogy of the 1980s includes Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding), Carmen, and El amor brujo featuring the work of Spanish flamenco dancer Cristina Hoyos. He later made the movies Flamenco (1995), Tango (1998), and Fados (2007).

His 1989 film La noche oscura was entered into the 39th Berlin International Film Festival.[5]

Saura in 2002.

Saura considers his film on surrealist master Luis Buñuel to be his best cinematic work. In an interview to an online film magazine,[6] he says about Buñuel y la mesa del rey Salomón (Buñuel and the table of King Solomon -2001): “That’s the greatest film I’ve ever made. I like the film but nobody else seems to like it. I’m sure Buñuel would have loved this film. But perhaps only he would have loved it. Everything you see in the film is actually based on conversations I had with him.”

In 1990, he received the Goya Award for the best director and best script for ¡Ay, Carmela!. He was chosen as director for the official film of the 1992 Olympic Games of Barcelona, Marathon (1993).

In 2008, Carlos Saura was honoured with a Global Life Time Achievement Award at the 10th Mumbai International Film Festival, organized by the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image.[7]

In 2013, he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 18th International Film Festival of Kerala.[8]

Personal life

Carlos Saura was married three times. He first married Adela Medrano in Barcelona in 1957. They had two sons, Carlos (b. 1958) and Antonio (b. 1960). On 27 December 1982 he married Mercedes Pérez. They had three sons, Manuel (b. 1980), Adrián (b. 1984) and Diego (b. 1987).

Between those two marriages, Saura had at least one known son, Shane (b. 1974), with the actress Geraldine Chaplin. His relationship history led some to believe he may have fathered more children. He is also the father of a daughter named Ana (b. December 1994) from his third marriage to actress Eulalia Ramón.


As director

Selected awards and nominations

Academy Awards


Berlin Film Festival


Cannes Film Festival

European Film Awards

Golden Globe Awards

Goya Awards

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

Montréal World Film Festival

San Sebastián International Film Festival

Venice Film Festival

Other awards and honours

Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain
Sant Jordi Awards


  1. "Berlinale: 1966 Prize Winners". Retrieved 2010-02-23.
  2. "Berlinale: 1968 Prize Winners". Retrieved 2010-03-05.
  3. "Berlinale: 1981 Prize Winners". Retrieved 2010-08-29.
  4. "The 52nd Academy Awards (1980) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2013-06-08.
  5. "Berlinale: 1989 Programme". Retrieved 2011-03-13.
  6. "Camera is My Memory: Carlos Saura"., 2008-04-16. Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2014-01-26.
  7. "Spanish director Carlos Saura to get Lifetime Achievement Award at Mumbai Fest"., 2008-02-22. Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2014-01-26.
  8. "IFFK award for Spanish filmmaker". The Hindu, 2013-11-02. Retrieved 2014-01-26.
  9. Silvia Calado: Carlos Saura, director of ‘Flamenco’ Interview: “I struggle to open up new and daring pathways for flamenco”. Archived December 28, 2014, at the Wayback Machine., May 2005. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
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