Héctor Babenco

"Babenco" redirects here. For people with a similar name, see Babenko.
Héctor Babenco

Babenco in São Paulo, Brazil
Born (1946-02-07)February 7, 1946
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Died July 13, 2016(2016-07-13) (aged 70)
São Paulo, Brazil
Occupation Film director and producer, screenwriter
Years active 1973–2015

Héctor Eduardo Babenco (February 7, 1946  July 13, 2016)[1] was an Argentine-born Brazilian film director, screenwriter, producer and actor.[2] He worked in several countries including Argentina, Brazil and the United States. His best known films are Pixote (1980), Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), Ironweed (1987), At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1990) and Carandiru (2003).

Life and career

Babenco was born in Buenos Aires and raised in Mar del Plata. His mother, Janka Haberberg, was a Polish-Jewish immigrant, and his father, Jaime Babenco, was an Argentine gaucho of Ukrainian-Jewish origin.[3][4][5] Babenco lived in Europe from 1964 to 1968. In 1969, he decided to stay in São Paulo, Brazil permanently. His first solo feature film as a director was King of the Night (1975).

Babenco had an international success with Pixote – A lei do mais fraco (1981).[6] It concerns Brazil's abandoned children. In the words of E. Ruby Rich while it concerns "a pair of boys who form a symbiotic sexual union", the film cannot "be held up as an example of how gay desire can be depicted, given its sensationalistic and sordid treatment of gay sex as accommodation, substitution, and punishment".[6] Due to the impressive work of young actor Fernando Ramos da Silva, 10 years old at the time, who was discovered in the suburbs of São Paulo. The film received numerous prizes.

For Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), Babenco was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, the first Latin American to be nominated in this category.

In 1994, Babenco fell ill and had to undergo a bone marrow transplant to treat a lymphatic cancer.[7]

He directed some of the most respected American actors of his time, including William Hurt, John Lithgow, Raul Julia, Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Tom Berenger, Daryl Hannah, Aidan Quinn and Kathy Bates.

His last film was My Hindu Friend (2016), which stars Willem Dafoe. It recounts the story of a film director close to death.[8]


Director and producer


Awards and Nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1977 São Paulo International Film Festival Best Feature Lucio Flavio Won [9]
1978 Gramado Film Festival Best Film Nominated
Taormina Film Fest Golden Charybdis Nominated
1981 Locarno International Film Festival Silver Leopard Pixote Won [9]
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Foreign Language Film Won
San Sebastián International Film Festival OCIC Award – Honorable Mentio Won
1982 National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Director Nominated
1985 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Kiss of the Spider Woman Nominated [9]
Tokyo International Film Festival Special Jury Distinguished Award Won
1986 Academy Awards Best Director Nominated
2003 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Carandiru Nominated [9]
Havana Film Festival Special Jury Prize Won
Audience Award Won
OCIC Award Won
Saúl Yelín Award Won
Glauber Rocha Award Won
House of the Americas Award Won
Radio Havana Award Won
2004 ACIE Awards Best Picture Nominated
Best Director Won
Bangkok International Film Festival Best Film Nominated
Cartagena Film Festival Best Film Won
Cinema Brazil Grand Prize Best Screenplay, Adapted Won
Best Director Won
Mar del Plata International Film Festival Best Film Nominated


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