Juan Antonio Bardem

Active - 1951 - 1987  |   Born - Jul 2, 1922   |   Died - Oct 30, 2002   |   Genres - Drama

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Director and screen writer Juan Antonio Bardem and his partner Luis-Garcia Berlanga are credited with bringing international renown to Spanish cinema. Bardem first trained as an agricultural engineer and began working in the cinema section of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture in 1946. He then enrolled in the Spanish Institute of Cinema Research and Experimentation, but never graduated as the faculty was decidedly unimpressed with his work. While writing criticism to Spanish magazines, he also collaborated on scripts with Berlanga. Together, they directed a short documentary Paseo Sobre una Guerra Antigua. In 1951 they penned Bienvenido, Mr. Marshall, for which they received European recognition; during that year they also directed another film, Esa Pareja Feliz. Two years later, Bardem wrote and directed his first solo project, Comicos, for which he won critical acclaim. Because his films were often critical of Franco's regime (something that endeared him to Spanish intellectuals and students) he was often in trouble with the government. In 1956, while filming Calle Mayor, he was arrested. While imprisoned, his 1955 film Muerte de un Ciclistal won the Critic's Award at Cannes. By 1958, he was again making controversial films that were often brutally edited by government censors. During that year, Bardem also co-founded and became president of Unici, a production company which released Bunuel's explosive 1961 film Viridiana that resulted in upheaval within the Spanish film industry and the loss of many jobs. This in turn caused Unici's operations to be severely cut back. Bardem has headed Spain's Directors Guild since the mid-1990s.

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