José Luis Borau

José Luis Borau
Born José Luis Borau Moradell
(1929-08-08)8 August 1929
Zaragoza, Spain
Died 12 November 2012(2012-11-12) (aged 83)
Madrid, Spain
Occupation Film producer
Film director
Years active 1960 - 2012

José Luis Borau Moradell (8 August 1929 – 23 November 2012) was a Spanish producer, screenwriter, writer, and film director. He won the Goya Award for Best Director in 2000 for Leo.

Borau was born in Zaragoza. In addition to directing, he acted in some films.

He was president of the Spanish Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (19941998), and member of the jury at the 41st Berlin International Film Festival in 1991.[1] In February 2008 he was elected to the B seat of the Real Academia Española.

Borau died, aged 83, in Madrid.


Born in Zaragoza. He was the only son of a middle class couple, old enough to be his grandparents. During the Spanish civil war he was no sent to school by his overprotecting parents. From an early age, Borau had great love for literature and films. Following family pressure, he studied law in his native Zaragoza and worked at Madrid's Ministry of Housing in 1957. He began his career working for the regional newspaper Heraldo de Aragón as film critic. He pursued his interest in filmmaking by moving to Madrid enrolling in the national film school IIEC (Instituto de Investigaciones y Experiencias de Cinematografia) where he specialized in film direction. He graduated with the short film En el Río (1960).

Borau followed this with a series of shorts and commercials for Spanish television. His first feature film was a genre film: Brandy (Ride and Kill) (1963), a low-budget Western starring Alex Nicol and Robert Hundar.[2] Brandy was followed the next year by Crimen de doble filo Double edged crime (1964), a brooding psychological thriller. These two films were received as just two commercial projects. In 1966, Borau launched his television career for the Spanish network TVE working on episodes of Dichoso Mundo (What a World), which starred stage actress Conchita Montes.

From 1962 until 1970, Borau taught screenwriting at the national film school EOC. Some of his students became the next generation of notable Spanish filmmakers including Antonio Drove, Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón, Pilar Miró and Ivan Zulueta.[2] While still teaching, Borau attempted to interest film producers in his scripts, but to no avail. As he did not like the films he was offered to direct either, he decided to create his own production company El Iman with capital he had made in advertisement for television. The first project that came out from El Iman was Un dos tres al escondite Inglés (Hide and Seek) (1969), a film directed by Ivan Zuleta. This project was followed by Jaime de Armiñán Mi querida señorita (My Dearest Senorita), with a script co-written by Borau.[2] My Dearest Senorita, an unusual work in Spanish cinema, portrays the ignorance in some provincial areas of Spain through the tragic story of a man who was raised as a woman and doesn’t know his true identity. The film was a critical and commercial success and it was nominated for an Oscar in the foreign language category.

In 1973, Borau scripted, produced and directed his third film, his first very personal project, Hay que matar a B (B must die) (1973). The film has an international cast, including Darren McGavin, Patricia Neal and Stephane Audran.[3] Set in a fictitious Latin American country, Hay q matar a B was a political thriller clearly inspired by Francoist Spain. In 1975 Borau made the film for which he is best remembered Furtivos (Poachers) (1975). The plot, set in the woodlands of Segovia, is a stark story of violence incest and matricide.[3] Co-scripted with Gutierrez Aragon, Borau took the role of the regional governor in the film. He fought the Francoist censorship to have his film released the way he intended. Furtivos was a great commercial and critical success, it won best film, Golden Shell, at the San Sebastián International Film Festival becoming one of the key film of the political transition in Spain. His next project, was to produce and co script Camada Negra (Black litter) (1976) a film directed by Gutiérrez Aragón his writing partner in Furtivos.Camada Negra, a study of fascism's defining elements, like Furtivos became emblematic of Spanish films of that period.[3]

In 1979 Borau undertook another international coproduction, La Sabina, a story of passion and superstition set in Andalusia with a cast of Spanish British and American actors including Jon Finch, Simon Ward, Angela Molina and Carol Kane. That same year, Borau moved to Los Angeles in order to fulfill his longtime dream of making a film in Hollywood. Plagued by financial difficulties, he managed to complete Rio Abajo (On the line) (1983). The film, a drama centered on the Mexico US border that starred Victoria Abril and David Carradine, was blocked from competing in the Berlin film festival, where it had been presented as the Spanish entry, due to his unspanish look. On the line was generally well received in Spain, but failed to interest American distributors till 1988 and even then made a poor showing in the American market.[3]

Borau seventh film, Tata Mia (My nanny) (1986), made in the style of Madrid comedies, centers on Elvira, a former nun unprepared to face a world so different from her religious or familiar past, her aging nanny is brought back to Madrid to help Elvira face the future. The film, an allegory of Spanish transition to democracy, had a stellar cast headed by Carmen Maura, Alfredo Landa and Imperio Argentina.[3]

Filmography as director

Year English title Original title Notes
1960 In the river En el río Documentary short
1963 Ride and Kill Brandy
1965 Double Edge Crime Crimen de doble filo
1974 B Must Die Hay que matar a B
1975 Poachers Furtivos Golden Shell at the San Sebastián International Film Festival.
1979 La Sabina La Sabina
1984 On the line Río abajo
1986 My Nanny Tata mía
1992 Celia Celia Made for television.
1996 Niño nadie Niño nadie
2000 Leo Leo Goya Award Best director
Entered into the 22nd Moscow International Film Festival.[4]



  1. "Berlinale: 1991 Juries". Retrieved 2011-03-21.
  2. 1 2 3 D’Lugo, Guide to the Cinema of Spain, p. 132
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 D’Lugo, Guide to the Cinema of Spain, p. 133
  4. "22nd Moscow International Film Festival (2000)". MIFF. Retrieved 2013-03-28.


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