Pedro Almodóvar Teases ‘Colorful’ New Western and a Dystopian Short

Pedro Almodóvar is in the middle of his most productive run in years, with a new short now out in the world and touring the festival circuit, a Lucia Berlin literary adaptation in the works, and an upcoming film with muse Penélope Cruz. But as revealed at the ongoing Venice Film Festival, where his 30-minute Jean Cocteau-based “The Human Voice” world-premiered earlier this month, the Spanish auteur has even more projects in the kiln.

At the press conference for “The Human Voice,” starring a dazzlingly styled Tilda Swinton as a jilted woman waiting on a very important phone call from an old flame, Almodóvar said he has also written an unconventional western, and has plans for two additional short films. One of them is inspired by current events, a dystopian narrative set in a world where arts and cultural centers like theaters have vanished.

Almodóvar told reporters at the Biennale that he’s written a “very different kind of western, which will be very colorful… very theatrical” (via The Guardian). (Almodóvar previously courted the genre when he almost directed “Brokeback Mountain.”) He said that he plans to tackle the western after making “Madres Paralelas,” the upcoming film with Cruz reported to begin shooting in February. It’s centered on two mothers (and their parallel, disparate lives) who give birth on the same day. The film will shoot in Madrid, and primarily in Spanish, but Almodóvar will also take on an English-language adaptation of Lucia Berlin’s “A Manual for Cleaning Women,” a short-story anthology about middle-class woes in America. “The Human Voice” has worked as a kind of primer for the Spanish-speaking director to work in the English language.

No word yet on the order in which these projects will take place, but at the Venice Film Festival, Almodóvar said he plans to begin pre-production on “Madres” in October. As for the shorts, Almodóvar said he’s already written the scripts (and teased them to IndieWire last fall during the release of his Oscar-nominated auto-fiction “Pain and Glory”).

“The lockdown has proven many things to us,” Almodóvar said in Venice (as reported by THR). “It showed us to what extent we all depend on fiction to fill our time… on experiences written by someone, interpreted by someone, in film, in the theater, or even through the newspaper. These cultural forms played an essential role in this time. Another result was negative. Lockdown has shown us that our homes can be a place where we are in prison. Where you can work, eat, and live inside. [But] the antidote to all this is the cinema. It is the opposite of all that. Going to the cinema means going on an adventure.”

“The Human Voice,” meanwhile, is earning raves. It’s next set to bow at the New York Film Festival later this fall.

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