Alejandro Amenábar

Alejandro Fernando Amenábar Cantos (born March 31, 1972), commonly known as Alejandro Amenábar, is a Spanish and Chilean film director, screenwriter and composer. Among other honors, he has won nine Goyas and two European Film Awards. He has written or co-written the screenplays to all six of his movies and composed almost all of the soundtracks.

Alejandro Amenábar
Amenabar (22022306905) (cropped)
Amenábar in 2015
Alejandro Fernando Amenábar Cantos

March 31, 1972 (age 46)
OccupationFilm director,
screen play writer and composer
Spouse(s)David Blanco (m. 2015)

Early life

Amenábar is the son of a Chilean man, Hugo Ricardo Amenabar and a Spanish woman, Josefina Cantos. He has a dual Chilean-Spanish citizenship. His father worked as a technician at General Electric, while his mother decided to stay at home and take care of the children. Alejandro is the younger of two brothers; his older brother, Ricardo, was born December 4, 1969.

Josefina's older sister had moved to the capital of Chile, Santiago, and she invited Josefina to join her there. In Santiago, Josefina met Hugo. Alejandro was born on March 31, 1972.

In August 1973, his family moved to Spain. The family settled in Madrid, living in a camping caravan. When Alejandro was six years old, they moved to a complex on the outskirts of the town of Paracuellos de Jarama (Madrid).


Alejandro and his brother did not watch much television. From the age of 15, Alejandro would dedicate his time to going to the cinema to watch movies. Other than theater, his passions were writing stories and reading books. According to Alejandro's mother, Alejandro had the capacity to absorb everything he read. As a child, he also composed melodies with the keyboard and guitar with the same ease as when he wrote his stories.

Alejandro started his studies at the Padres Escolapios de Getafe school. In his second year of high school, he transferred to the Alameda de Osuna institute, in the north-east of Madrid. The school was not close to where Alejandro was living; however, his parents, who were very concerned about his education, decided to enroll him in that institute because it was known as one of the best schools in Madrid.

Before he became a director, Alejandro worked as a stock boy in a warehouse and as a gardener, until he had enough money to buy his own home camera. He did not want to start his university studies in cinema before ever having touched a camera. Amenábar entered the Information Sciences Faculty at Madrid's Complutense University, where after numerous scholastic failures he decided to give up studying cinema and he began directing. The advantage from having attended university was that he met people who later in life would become very important throughout his career (that was the case for Sergio Rozas and Carlos Montero, through whom he met Eduardo Noriega). At university, he also met Mateo Gil, a friend and companion, and the pair made a pact to always support each other's projects.

Film career

Between 1991 and 1994, Amenábar made three short films which in a very significant way influenced his first full-length films: La Cabeza, Himenóptero, and Luna.

Knowing José Luis Cuerda helped Alejandro greatly in his career. A friend of José Luis Cuerda gave him the script of Himenóptero so he would give his opinion. Thereafter, Cuerda was interested in Amenábar's work. This led to him becoming the producer of Thesis (1996), which is one of Amenábar's most recognized films, putting his name on the map. Thesis was a thriller set in the School of Information Sciences at the Complutense University of Madrid. Through this film, he gained the attention of critics in the Berlin Film Festival and won seven Goyas, including Best Picture and Best New Director.

In 1997 he made Abre Los Ojos, a science fiction movie that had notable success at international festivals such as Berlin and Tokyo. Impressed by the movie, Tom Cruise bought the rights to adapt and produce the film, starring in a remake, Vanilla Sky.

His third large film was The Others, a ghost story starring Nicole Kidman. It was very successful at an international level, especially in Spain, where it was the most viewed film that year. The Others was also very popular in the United States, where it was at the top of the box office for several weeks. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2001, won eight Goyas, including the Best Picture and Best Director, and was nominated for best European Film Movie.

In 2004 Amenábar released The Sea Inside, a real life-story about a quadriplegic Ramón Sampedro (played by Javier Bardem), which addressed issues such as euthanasia, abortion, or “the right to a dignified life.” The movie won 14 Goyas, including best movie and best director, and an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2004.

In 2008 Amenábar released his next film, called Mists of Time; however he later changed the name to Agora. The film starred big-name actors including Rachel Weisz and Max Minghella. Agora premiered on October 9, 2009, and with a budget of 50 million euros, it is the most expensive Spanish film in history.

After a hiatus of almost seven years, Amenábar came back in 2015 with a new movie titled Regression, a thriller starring Ethan Hawke and Emma Watson. The film had its world premiere at the San Sebastián International Film Festival in September 2015. Initial reviews were lukewarm.[1]

Amenábar is also the composer of the soundtrack of his films, as well as others, such as Butterfly's Tongue directed by José Luis Cuerda and Nobody Knows Anybody directed by Mateo Gil.

Personal life

In 2004, Amenábar came out as gay.[2] On 18 July 2015, he married David Blanco.[3] Amenábar was raised Catholic, but later became Agnostic and is now Atheist.[4]



  • Himenóptero (1992)
  • Luna (1995)

Full length films

Other works

  • Al Lado del Atlas (1994) [Composer]
  • Allanamiento de Morada (1998) [Composer]
  • La lengua de las mariposas (1999) [Composer]
  • Nobody Knows Anybody (1999) [Composer]
  • El Soñador (2004) [Writer and producer]
  • Un viaje mar adentro (television feature) (2005) [Director]


  1. ^ Regression. Variety (2013-10-31). Retrieved on 2014-05-22.
  2. ^ "Amenábar habla de su homosexualidad" (in Spanish). Espectáculos. 31 August 2004. Archived from the original on 3 September 2004. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  3. ^ "Alejandro Amenábar se casa este sábado: todas las fotos de su romance" (in Spanish). Vanitatis. 18 July 2015. Retrieved 18 July 2015.

External links

11th Goya Awards

The 11th Goya Awards were presented in Madrid, Spain on 25 January 1997.

Thesis won the award for Best Film.

16th Goya Awards

The 16th Goya Awards took place at the Palacio Municipal de Congresos in Madrid, Spain on 2 February 2002.

The Others won the award for Best Film.

1972 in Chile

The following lists events that happened during 1972 in Chile.

19th Goya Awards

The 19th Goya Awards took place in Madrid, Spain on 30 January 2005.

The Sea Inside was nominated for 15 awards and won 14, including the four regular acting awards (Bardem, Bugallo, Dueñas and Rivera) and the two acting awards for Best New Actor and Actress, Best Director (Amenábar), Best Film and Best Original Screenplay (Amenábar and Gil).

24th Goya Awards

The 24th Goya Awards were given in 2010 to honour the best in Spanish filmmaking of 2009.

Cell 211 won the award for Best Film.

7th Empire Awards

The 7th Empire Awards ceremony, presented by the British film magazine Empire, honored the best films of 2001 and took place on 5 February 2002 at The Dorchester Hotel in London, England. During the ceremony, Empire presented Empire Awards in eight categories as well as three honorary awards. The honorary Independent Spirit Award was first introduced this year. English comedian Phill Jupitus hosted the show for the first time.The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Moulin Rouge! were tied for most awards won with three awards apiece. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring won the award for Best Film, while Moulin Rouge! won the award for Best Director for Baz Luhrmann. Other winners included Bridget Jones's Diary who won the award for Best British Film and Enigma with one award apiece. Michael Mann received the Empire Inspiration Award, Christopher Lee received the Lifetime Achievement Award and Alejandro Amenábar received the Independent Spirit Award for The Others.

Agora (film)

Agora (Spanish: Ágora) is a 2009 Spanish English-language historical drama film directed by Alejandro Amenábar and written by Amenábar and Mateo Gil. The biopic stars Rachel Weisz as Hypatia, a female mathematician, philosopher and astronomer in late 4th-century Roman Egypt, who investigates the flaws of the geocentric Ptolemaic system and the heliocentric model that challenges it. Surrounded by religious turmoil and social unrest, Hypatia struggles to save the knowledge of classical antiquity from destruction. Max Minghella co-stars as Davus, Hypatia's father's slave, and Oscar Isaac as Hypatia's student, and later prefect of Alexandria, Orestes.

The story uses historical fiction to highlight the relationship between religion and science at the time amidst the decline of Greco-Roman polytheism and the Christianization of the Roman Empire. The title of the film takes its name from the agora, a public gathering place in ancient Greece, similar to the Roman forum. The film was produced by Fernando Bovaira and shot on the island of Malta from March to June 2008. Justin Pollard, co-author of The Rise and Fall of Alexandria (2007), was the historical adviser for the film.

Agora was screened out of competition at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival in May, and opened in Spain on October 9, 2009 becoming the highest-grossing film of the year for that country. Although the film had difficulty finding distribution, it was released country by country throughout late 2009 and early 2010. The film received a 53% overall approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes and seven Goya Awards in Spain, including Best Original Screenplay. It was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival.

Cinema of Spain

The art of motion-picture making within the Kingdom of Spain or by Spanish filmmakers abroad is collectively known as Spanish Cinema.

In recent years, Spanish cinema has achieved high marks of recognition. In the long history of Spanish cinema, the great filmmaker Luis Buñuel was the first to achieve universal recognition, followed by Pedro Almodóvar in the 1980s. Spanish cinema has also seen international success over the years with films by directors like Segundo de Chomón, Florián Rey, Luis García Berlanga, Juan Antonio Bardem, Carlos Saura, Julio Médem and Alejandro Amenábar. Woody Allen, upon receiving the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award in 2002 in Oviedo remarked: "when I left New York, the most exciting film in the city at the time was Spanish, Pedro Almodóvar's one. I hope that Europeans will continue to lead the way in film making because at the moment not much is coming from the United States."

Non-directors, like the cinematographer Néstor Almendros, the art director Gil Parrondo, the screenwriter Rafael Azcona, the actresses Maribel Verdú and, especially, Penélope Cruz and the actors Fernando Rey, Francisco Rabal, Antonio Banderas, Javier Bardem and Fernando Fernán Gómez, have obtained significant recognition outside Spain.

Only a small portion of box office sales in Spain are generated by domestic films. The Spanish government has therefore implemented measures aimed at supporting local film production and movie theaters, which include the assurance of funding from the main national television stations. The trend is being reversed with productions such as the €30 million film Alatriste (starring Viggo Mortensen), the Academy Award-winning Spanish film Pan's Labyrinth (starring Maribel Verdú), Volver (starring Penélope Cruz and Carmen Maura), and Los Borgia (starring Paz Vega), all of them sold-out blockbusters in Spain.

Another aspect of Spanish cinema mostly unknown to the general public is the appearance of English-language Spanish films such as Agora (directed by Alejandro Amenábar and starring Rachel Weisz), Ché (directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Benicio del Toro), The Machinist (starring Christian Bale), The Others (starring Nicole Kidman), Miloš Forman’s Goya's Ghosts (starring Javier Bardem and Natalie Portman), and The Impossible (starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts). All of these films were produced by Spanish firms.

Goya Award for Best Director

The Goya Award for Best Director (Spanish: Premio Goya a la mejor dirección) is one of the Goya Awards, Spain's principal national film awards.

In the list below the winner of the award for each year is shown first, followed by the other nominees.

Goya Award for Best Film

The Goya Award for Best Picture (Spanish: Premio Goya a la mejor película) is one of the Goya Awards, Spain's principal national film awards.

In the list below the winner of the award for each year is shown first, followed by the other nominees.

Goya Award for Best Original Screenplay

The Goya Award for Best Original Screenplay (Spanish Premio Goya al mejor guión original) is one of the Goya Awards, Spain's principal national film awards

Javier Aguirresarobe

Javier Aguirresarobe Zubía (born 10 October 1948) is a Spanish cinematographer.

José Luis Cuerda

José Luis Cuerda Martínez (18 February 1947 Albacete, Castile-La Mancha) is a Spanish film director, screenwriter and producer.

He has produced three films of Alejandro Amenábar (Tesis, Abre los ojos & The Others).

José Luis García Sánchez

José Luis García Sánchez (born 22 September 1941) is a Spanish film director, screenwriter and producer. He has directed 30 films since 1968. He wrote for the 1973 film Habla, mudita, which was entered into the 23rd Berlin International Film Festival. In 1978, he directed Las truchas, which won the Golden Bear at the 28th Berlin International Film Festival.

Open Your Eyes (1997 film)

Open Your Eyes (Spanish: Abre los ojos) is a 1997 Spanish film co-written, co-scored and directed by Alejandro Amenábar and co-written by Mateo Gil. It stars Eduardo Noriega, Penélope Cruz, Fele Martínez and Najwa Nimri. In 2002, Open Your Eyes was ranked no. 84 in the Top 100 Sci-Fi List by the Online Film Critics Society. The movie's intersecting planes of dream and reality have prompted some critics to suggest comparisons to Calderón's play Life Is a Dream (Spanish: La vida es sueño, 1635).An American remake entitled Vanilla Sky, directed by Cameron Crowe, was released in 2001, with Penélope Cruz reprising her role.

Regression (film)

Regression is a 2015 psychological thriller mystery film directed, produced and written by Alejandro Amenábar. The film stars Ethan Hawke and Emma Watson, with David Thewlis, Lothaire Bluteau, Dale Dickey, David Dencik, Peter MacNeill, Devon Bostick and Aaron Ashmore in supporting roles.

The film had its world premiere at the San Sebastián International Film Festival on September 18, 2015.


Tesis (English: Thesis) is a 1996 Spanish thriller film. It is the feature debut of director Alejandro Amenábar and was written by Amenabar and Mateo Gil. The film was made while he was studying at the Complutense University in Madrid. The film won seven 1996 Goya Awards including the award for Best Film, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director. It stars Ana Torrent, Fele Martínez and Eduardo Noriega.

The Others (2001 film)

The Others (Spanish: Los Otros) is a 2001 horror film. It was written, directed, and scored by Alejandro Amenábar. It stars Nicole Kidman and Fionnula Flanagan. The film is partly based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.

The film won eight Goya Awards, including awards for Best Film and Best Director. This was the first English-language film ever to receive the Best Film Award at the Goyas (Spain's national film awards), without a single word of Spanish spoken in it. The Others was nominated for six Saturn Awards including Best Director and Best Writing for Amenábar and Best Performance by a Younger Actor for Alakina Mann, and won three: Best Horror Film, Best Actress for Kidman and Best Supporting Actress for Fionnula Flanagan. Kidman was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in Drama and a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, with Amenábar being nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay, a rare occurrence for a horror film.

The Sea Inside

The Sea Inside (Spanish: Mar adentro) is a 2004 Spanish drama film written, produced, directed, and scored by Alejandro Amenábar, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It is based on the real-life story of Ramón Sampedro (played by Javier Bardem), who was left quadriplegic after a diving accident, and his 28-year campaign in support of euthanasia and the right to end his life.

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