Trueba, Fernando


Trueba, Fernando
(1955- )
   Fernando Trueba is one of the key Spanish writer-directors of the post-Transition period, and has also developed a successful career as a producer. He was born in Madrid and studied Image and Communications. During the late 1970s, he directed a series of shorts, the most important being En legítima defensa, (In Self-Defense, 1978) and El león enamorado (A Lion in Love, 1979). At this time, he was also a film critic for Fotogramas and other prominent film magazines in Spain, such as Guía del Ocio; later, he would be the founder of Casablanca in 1981.
   In 1979, he set up with Fernando Colomo La Salamandra PC, the company that produced his first feature-length film, Ópera prima (1980). This was a hugely successful low-budget comedy in the style of Woody Allen, with a strong Madrid flavor, written in collaboration with actor Óscar Ladoire, his alter ego in the film and his preferred star in the next decade. It constituted a funny portrait of the psyche of intellectual males during the Transition and introduced one of the most characteristic actors of the period, Antonio Resines. In the following years, he tried a similar formula with Sal gorda (Get Out, Fat Girl, 1983), but was unable to achieve the same success. He alternated between film criticism and direction. Then, in 1985, he directed an adaptation of a British vaudeville by Ray Cooney, Sé infiel y no mires con quién (Be Wanton and Tread No Shame), which was a critical and box-office hit that opened new possibilities.
   Trueba found a new direction with El año de las luces (The Year of Enlightenment, 1986). Co-scripted with Rafael Azcona, this coming-of-age story is set in the postwar era, and it manages to be both funny and sentimental; it garnered several awards. After the interesting but flawed Dream of the Mad Monkey (1989), an adaptation of a Christoper Frank novel shot in English, with Jeff Goldblum and Miranda Richardson, his films of the 1990s show him increasingly more self-assured, and more able to tackle personal projects, carefully crafted and boasting large casts. This was the case with Belle Epoque (1992), one of his great hits (again, co-written with Azcona). The Academy Award named it Best Foreign Film, which opened the door to Hollywood; in 1996, he directed in Two Much (1995), starring Antonio Banderas, Melanie Griffith, and Daryl Hannah. The film was not a success, and he concentrated on production and television. The next milestone in his career was La niña de tus ojos (The Girl of Your Dreams, 1998), inspired by real events, in which a Spanish film troupe travels to Nazi Germany to shoot at UFA. As in Belle Epoque, attention to detail and the ability to make the most of a large cast are among its most enduring qualities. In the early 1990s, he was largely a television producer (for instance, of the long running series La mujer de tu vida [ The Woman of Your Life, 1992-94 ]). He also directed the weekly show El peor programa de la semana (The Worst Program of the Week, 1993).
   In 2002, Trueba took over the adaptation of Juan Marsé's novel El embrujo de Shanghai (The Shanghai Spell) from Víctor Erice, who was typically unable to follow the schedule as planned. He has not directed many features in the last 10 years, turning instead to music documentaries such as La calle 54 (54th Street, 2000) and El Milagro de Candeal (Candeal's Miracle, 2004), on Carlinhos Brown and Brazilian popular music. El baile de la victoria (2009) was Trueba's return to feature films after a long period. Set in Chile and based on a novel by Antonio Skármeta, it starred Ricardo Darín and Ariadna Gil.
   See also Trueba, David.
   Historical Dictionary of Spanish Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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