He was born in Calzada de Calatrava, province of Ciudad Real, in the heart of La Mancha, in the 50s. When he was eight, he emigrated with his family to Estremadura. There he studied for his elementary and high school diplomas respectively with the Salesian Fathers and the Franciscans.
At seventeen, he left home and moved to Madrid, with no money and no job, but with a very specific project in mind: to study cinema and direct films. It was impossible to enrol in the Official Film School because Franco had just closed it. Despite the dictatorship that was suffocating the country, for an adolescent from the provinces Madrid represented culture, independence and freedom. He worked at many, sporadic jobs but couldn’t buy his first Super- 8mm camera until he got a “serious” job at the National Telephone Company of Spain in 1971. He worked there for twelve years as an administrative assistant, he shared this job in the mornings with other multiple activities which provided his real training as a filmmaker and as a person.
In the mornings, in the Telephone Company, he got an in-depth knowledge of the Spanish middle class at the start of the consumer era, the seventies, its dramas and its misfortunes, a real gold mine for a future story teller. In the evenings and nights, he wrote, loved, acted with the mythical independent theatre group Los Goliardos and made films in Super-8 (his only school as a filmmaker). He collaborated with various underground magazines and wrote stories, some of which were published. He was a member of a parodic punk-rock group, Almodóvar and McNamara, etc. And he had the good fortune that his personal explosion coincided with the explosion of the democratic Madrid of the last seventies, early eighties. That was the period the world knew as La Movida.
His films are the heirs and the witnesses of the brand new born Spanish democracy. After a year and a half of eventful shooting on 16mm, in 1980 he opened “Pepi, Luci, Bom”, a no-budget film made as a cooperative effort with the rest of the crew and the cast, all beginners, except for Carmen Maura.
In 1986, he founded the production company El Deseo S.A. with his brother Agustín. Their first project was “Law of Desire”. Since then, they have produced all the films that Pedro has written and directed, and have also produced other young directors.
In 1988, “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” brought him international recognition. Since then, his films have opened all around the world. With “All About my Mother” he won his first Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, and also the Golden Globe, the César, 3 European Film Awards, the David de Donatello, 2 BAFTAs, 7 Goyas and 45 other awards. Three years later, “Talk to Her” had the same or better fortune (Academy Award for Best Script, 5 European Film Awards, 2 BAFTAs, the Nastro de Argento, the César and many other awards throughout the world but not in Spain).
He produced four very special films, highly rated throughout the world for their valour and delicacy (“My Life Without Me”, “The Holy Girl”, “The Secret Life of Words” and “The Headless Woman”, by Isabel Coixet and Lucrecia Martel alternatively).
In 2004, “Bad Education” was chosen to open the Cannes Festival. It received extraordinary reviews throughout the world. It was nominated for numerous awards (Independent Spirit Awards, BAFTAs, César, European Film Awards) and won the prestigious Award for Best Foreign Film given by the New York Critics’ Circle and also the Nastro de Argento.
In 2006 he is awarded with the Prince of Asturias Award to the Arts. That very same year he presents “Volver” in competition in the Cannes Film Festival, where it got the Best Screenplay Award as well as the Best Actress Award for the six actresses of the film, leaded by Penélope Cruz. The film received 5 EFA awards, 5 Goya awards, the Fipresci award, the National Board of Review, and many others (up to 72). Penélope was nominated to the Best Actress Academy Award, being the first time a Spanish actress was nominated for a Spanish speaking film. Up to now, “Volver” has been his most popular film in terms of box office.
1974-1979 - Various films of differing lengths on Super-8mm, including some on 16mm (Salomé)
1980 - Pepi, Luci, Bom
1982 - Labyrinth of Passions
1983 - Dark Habits
1984-5 - What Have I Done to Deserve This?!
1985 - Trayler para amantes de lo prohibido (medium length, on video, for TVE)
1985-86 - Matador
1986 - Law of Desire
1987 - Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
1989 - Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down
1991 - High Heels
1992 - Acción mutante (Producer)
1993 - Kika
1995 - The Flower of my Secret
1997 - Live Flesh
1999 - All About My Mother
2000 - The Devil’s Backbone (Producer)
2001 - Talk to Her
2002 - My Life Without Me (Producer)
2003 - Chill Out! (Producer)
2003 - Bad Education
2004 - The Holy Girl (Producer)
2005 - The Secret Life of Words (Producer)
2006 - Volver
2008 - The Headless Woman (Producer)
2009 - Broken Embraces
2011 - The Skin I Live In