The Sie FilmCenter is hosting a twenty-film retrospective of Pedro Almodóvar, the brazenly independent filmmaker who has defined Spanish cinema in the post-Franco era and managed to keep his hands unsullied by the Hollywood machine.
Filmmaker, programmer and Westword contributor Keith Garcia, the brains behind the retrospective, has been an avid Almodóvar fan since he was an adolescent. When he was around twelve, he recalls, he saw Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown on the shelves of the public library, checked it out and watched it half-a-dozen times. He was struck by the filmmaker's love of women and the vivid world he created.
"I thought it was hilarious," says Garcia, who dove into his newfound passion for foreign and independent film and eventually become a programmer at art-house theaters in Denver, including the Sie and the Alamo Drafthouse.
As a kid coming into his gay identity, Garcia was thrilled when he learned that Almodóvar was also a gay man; the director served as a role model, proving that being gay didn't limit what you could do in life.
Almodóvar is known for portraying strong women who find themselves embroiled in existential dramas, struggling to survive with whatever resources they can muster. Meanwhile, the men in Almodóvar movies are second-rate characters, mostly morally flawed and vile. "The men in his films are incredibly weak," Garcia says. Women take care of women, and "Almodóvar doesn't man-splain."
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While Almodóvar has taken some fire for depicting transgender women as tragic sex workers, Garcia says that those characters are born from the filmmaker's immersion in underground queer culture in Spain, a country with a bloody history of fascist political repression, where sex-work has been one of the few ways that trans women have found to survive. Garcia celebrates Almodóvar for shining a light on the struggles of characters that other filmmakers ignore.
The FilmCenter will be showing all of Almodóvar's films over four weeks. During week one, the director's first productions, which Garcia likens to John Waters movies, hit the screen. In week two, the program will showcase the filmmaker's movies about sexuality. The third week will spotlight a self-reflective period of his career, and the last week, which concludes with Almodóvar's most recent film, the 2016 Julieta, looks at where the director's career has landed in recent years.
For Almodóvar fans, the series will be an opportunity to re-watch familiar films like Volver and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and also see some of the director’s more obscure works, including his first feature film Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls Like Mom.
Almodóvar En Total runs from today through August 29 at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, 720-381-0813. For a full list of screenings, go visit the Sie FilmCenter online.