Álex de la Iglesia

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Álex de la Iglesia
Álex de la Iglesia [Photographer: Chus García]
Alejandro de la Iglesia Mendoza

(1965-12-04) 4 December 1965 (age 57)
Bilbao, Biscay, Spain
Alma materUniversity of Deusto
  • Film director
  • screenwriter
  • producer
Amaya Díez
(m. 1997⁠–⁠2010)
(m. 2014)

Alejandro "Álex" de la Iglesia Mendoza (born 4 December 1965) is a Spanish film director, screenwriter, producer and former comic book artist.

De la Iglesia's films combine grotesque and very dark elements such as death and murder: most of his works are considered dark comedies, but are also often considered to have horror and/or drama elements. All his films, with the notable exceptions of The Last Circus (2010) and As Luck Would Have It (2011), were written together with Jorge Guerricaechevarría.


Studies and early career

With a degree in Philosophy from the University of Deusto, De la Iglesia began drawing comics in fanzines such as No, el fanzine maldito[1] and Metacrilato, as well as in magazines such as Trokola, Burdinjaun and La Ría del Ocio. De la Iglesia always acknowledges Alex Raymond (creator of Flash Gordon) and Stan Lee (founder of Marvel Comics and creator of Spider-Man and The Hulk) as his main inspiration as a comics artist.

It was also around this time, between 1986 and 1989, when he founded in Bilbao one of the first role-game clubs in Spain: Los Pelotas.

In his debut in the film industry, De la Iglesia was art director in the short film Mamá (1988),[2] by Pablo Berger, and again in Enrique Urbizu’s feature Todo por la pasta (Anything for Bread (1991). De la Iglesia had already collaborated with Enrique Urbizu and Joaquín Trincado designing the poster for their first film, Tu novia está loca (1988).[3]

Álex de la Iglesia’s first short film, Mirindas asesinas (1991),[4] got the attention of Pedro Almodóvar, whose production company, El Deseo, collaborated in De la Iglesia's first feature film, Acción mutante (the sci-fi actioner) (1993).

El día de la Bestia

De la Iglesia’s next movie would establish him as one of the most important directors of Spanish cinema: El día de la Bestia (1995), written with Jorge Guerricaechevarría, co-screenwriter in most of Álex de la Iglesia’s films since then. Released internationally as “The day of the Beast”, the film won six Goya awards, including the award for Best Director. This piece turned Santiago Segura into one of Spain's best-known actors and brought back actress Terele Pávez, her being a regular in his movies until her demise in 2017.

Maverick director

Subsequently, De la Iglesia has been combining productions aimed at an international audience, with others closer to the Spanish cultural taste, but all displaying his sublimely witted, often dark, and sometimes even grotesque, sense of humor. Many veteran Spanish actors and actresses have worked under his direction, from Carmen Maura to María Asquerino, as well as several Hollywood stars like Rosie Pérez, Elijah Wood, John Hurt or Salma Hayek.

He directed the performances of Javier Bardem, Rosie Pérez and James Gandolfini in Perdita Durango (1997); Santiago Segura and El Gran Wyoming in Muertos de risa (“Dying of Laughter”, 1999); Carmen Maura, Manuel Tejada and Paca Gabaldón in La comunidad (“Common Wealth”, 2000); Sancho Gracia, Ángel de Andrés López and Eusebio Poncela in 800 balas (“800 Bullets”, 2002); Guillermo Toledo, Mónica Cervera and Kira Miró in Crimen ferpecto (“Ferpect Crime”, 2004); and Elijah Wood, Leonor Watling and John Hurt in Los crímenes de Oxford (“The Oxford Murders”, 2007).

Balada triste de trompeta

His film, Balada triste de trompeta (“The Last Circus”, 2010) was awarded two prizes at the 67th Venice International Film Festival, namely, an Osella for Best Screenplay and the Silver Lion for Best Direction. It was also nominated for fifteen Goya awards in 2011, including Best Director, Best Film And Best Original Screenplay. It got to receive the awards for Best Makeup and Best Special Effects. The New York Times praised the movie on a raving piece when the film opened theatrically in the US.[5]

Box Office Hits: Las brujas de Zugarramurdi and Perfectos desconocidos

In 2011, De la Iglesia released La chispa de la vida (“As Luck Would Have It”), starring José Mota and Salma Hayek, and shot in the coastal Spanish town of Cartagena.

2013 was the year of Las brujas de Zugarramurdi (“Witching & Bitching”), one of Álex de la Iglesia’s most successful movies, praised by audience and critics. He began shooting it in the fall of 2012 with an extensive cast that included Carmen Maura, Macarena Gómez, Hugo Silva, Mario Casas, Carolina Bang, Terele Pávez and Pepón Nieto, and some cameos by Santiago Segura and Carlos Areces. The film was released in Spain on September 27, 2013, and achieved relevant commercial success, grossing 14.6 million euros, with a total cost of 6M€.[6] It was awarded eight Goyas, including Best Supporting Actress for the veteran actress, Terele Pávez.[7]

De la Iglesia then surprised everyone with Mi gran noche (“My Big Night”, 2015), an ensemble film that marked Spanish singer superstar Raphael’s comeback to cinema after 40years. Raphael heads a huge cast that included Mario Casas, Pepón Nieto, Blanca Suárez, Carlos Areces, Luis Callejo, Carmen Machi, Jaime Ordóñez, Santiago Segura, Enrique Villén, Hugo Silva, Carolina Bang, Terele Pávez, Carmen Ruiz, Marta Guerras, Ana Polvorosa, Toni Acosta and Luis Fernández, among many others. Mi gran noche was another box-office success for its director, grossing almost three times the four million euros it cost.[8]

In 2017, Álex de la Iglesia released two films: El Bar, with several of his already regular actors (Blanca Suárez, Mario Casas, Carmen Machi, Pepón Nieto, Terele Pávez), and the remake of the Italian film Perfetti sconosciuti, titled in Spanish Perfectos desconocidos (“Perfect Stragers” internationally), with another impressive cast including Belén Rueda and Eduardo Noriega. Perfectos desconocidos was the director's biggest box-office return to date, with almost 20 million euros grossed.[9]

The rise of Pokeepsie Films

In 2009, producer Carolina Bang and Álex de la Iglesia established the production powerhouse Pokeepsie Films. Created to nurture a new generation of bold, daring and innovative filmmakers, Pokeepsie films have produced an impressive slate of successful features, such as Paper House’s director Koldo Serra’s 70 Bin Ladens (“70 Big Ones”), Eduardo Casanova’s multi-awarded Pieles (“Skins”) and La Pietà (released theatrically on January 13th, 2022), Esteban Roel and Juanfer Andrés’ Musarañas (“Shrew’s nest”), starred by the outstanding Macarena Gómez, Alex de la Iglesia’s El bar, Ignacio Tatay’s The Chalk Line (nº2 non-English language film in Netflix for 2 weeks in October 2022), Jaume Balagueró’s Venus, and recently HBO’s massive hit 30 monedas (“30 coins”), seasons 1 and 2.

In February 2021, Álex de la Iglesia announced the shooting of a new film under his direction, produced by Mediaset España, together with his production company. The film is called El cuarto pasajero (“Four’s a crowd”) and stars Blanca Suárez, Ernesto Alterio, Alberto San Juan and Rubén Cortada. With “Four’s a crowd” as international title, El cuarto pasajero was released in Spain in October 2022, with excellent box-office returns

The Fear Collection

In the recent years, Pokeepsie films expanded their activities with ambitious projects such as The Fear Collection,[10] a partnership with Sony Pictures and Amazon Prime to produce a series of horror feature films co-produced by Pokeepsie Films. The movies will be directed by some notable Spanish filmmakers such as Jaume Balagueró, Paula Ortiz, and Álex de la Iglesia himself, among many others. The first film of The Fear Collection is Venicephrenia, directed by De la Iglesia. Venicephrenia had its world-premiere at the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia and was released in Spring 2022.[11] The second feature of this collection is Venus, directed by prestigious Catalan helmer Jaume Balagueró. Venus had its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival. Starring Ester Expósito, it was relelased theatrically on Dec. the 2nd. 2022

Television Álex de la Iglesia has directed sketches for TV shows such as El peor programa de la semana with El Gran Wyoming[12] (TVE) and Inocente, Inocente (regional television), as well as the series Plutón B.R.B. Nero (2008) for La 2 (TVE). This one is a parody of science fiction series starring Antonio Gil, Carolina Bang and Carlos Areces, among others.

At the Venice International Film Festival of 2020, he presented his series 30 monedas (“30 Coins”), which premiered on HBO Spain on November 29 of that same year. The series tells the ordeal of Father Vergara, an exorcist, boxer and ex-convict exiled in a parish of a remote village in Spain. In December 2021, HBO announced 30 monedas was the most viewed show in Spain.[13]

Presidency of the Film Academy[edit]

Álex de la Iglesia was elected president of the Academy of Cinematograhic Arts of Spain on June 21, 2009 after presenting himself as candidate — together with Icíar Bollaín and Emilio A. Pina — to replace Ángeles González-Sinde after her appointment as Minister of Culture. De la Iglesia’s main goals as the head of the national industry were to "bring back together at the Academy all the artists who left Spain or are far from the institution". With this, he was aiming at Pedro Almodóvar and his brother, Agustín Almodóvar, who left the organization in 2005 publicly disagreeing with the institution’s voting system. And also José Luis Garci as well, who left the Academy in 1999 due to another controversy related with the voting procedures. The filmmaker from Bilbao was also committed to the fight against piracy. In his own words, he wanted to "defend the people who make a living from making films".

On February 14, 2010, De la Iglesia gave his most celebrated speech as president of the Film Academy at the Goya Awards gala, recalling that it was necessary to create laws "that protect the coexistence of all sectors, and that also includes filmmaking". For this reason, the then president of the Academy participated in the debate on the second final provision of the Sustainable Economy Law (known as the Sinde-Wert Law) after it was rejected in the Congress on December 21, 2010. This text raised the possibility of closing Internet pages that violate copyright laws after the intervention of an Intellectual Property Commission, instead of just a judge or a magistrate.

Recurring collaborators[edit]

Álex de la Iglesia's films usually feature actors and actresses he completely trusts and with whom he has worked before. The most prominent is Santiago Segura, to whom he offered his first role in a feature film, but there have also been frequent appearances by Mario Casas and Carlos Areces, as they were the sorely missed Terele Pávez and Álex Angulo. Antonio de la Torre, Enrique Villén, Secun de la Rosa or Manuel Tallafé are also regulars in his films, often in very solid supporting roles. Jorge Guerricaechevarría has been his co-screenwriter in practically all his works. Some of these actors have also appeared in films produced but not directed by Álex de la Iglesia and, in the case of Macarena Gómez, she has been commonly seen in films he produced, including Gómez’s instant-cult prominent role in seasons 1 and 2 of HBO’s 30 monedas (“30 Coins”).


In 1997 he published the novel Payasos en la lavadora (“Clowns in the Washing Machine). In 2014 he published his second novel Recuérdame que te odie (“Remind me to hate you”).[14] In 2022 Norma editorial released Arte y ensayo, a compilation of essays on Álex de la Iglesia’s facet as a graphic artist.

A selection of Awards and accolades[edit]

Goya Awards

Goya Awards
Year Award Title Result
1992 Best Novel Director Acción mutante Nominated
1995 Best Director El día de la bestia Won
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
2000 Best Director La comunidad Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
2008 Best Movie Los crímenes de Oxford Nominated
Best Director Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
2010 Best Director Balada triste de trompeta Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Platino Awards
Year Award Title Result
1992 Best Creation for TV Patria Pending
Medallas del Círculo de Escritores Cinematográficos (CEC Awards)
Year Award Title Result
1995 Best Director El día de la bestia Won
Nocturna Madrid International Fantastic Film Festival
Year Award Category Result
2005 Maestro del fantástico Trajectory Won
Sitges Film Festival
Year Award Category Result
2005 Time Machine Award Trajectory Won
Premio Nacional de Cinematografía (National Cinematography Award)
Year Award Category Result
2010 National Cinematography Award granted by the Ministry of Culture. Trajectory Won
Venice International Film Festival
Year Award Title Result
2010 Silver Lion for Best Direction Balada triste de trompeta Won
Osella for Best Screenplay
Arca Cinema Giovani Award

Silver Condor Awards

Silver Condor Awards
Year Award Title Result
2012 Best Ibero-American film Balada triste de trompeta Won
Premios Pávez - Festival Nacional de Cortometrajes Talavera de la Reina
Year Award Result
2017 Pávez Honorífico Won

Medalla de plata de la Comunidad de Madrid (2016)

Medalla de Oro al Mérito en las Bellas Artes (Gold Medal of Merits in the Fine Arts - 2020)



Year Film Director Writer Producer Notes
1993 Mutant Action Yes Yes No
1995 The Day of the Beast Yes Yes No
1997 Dance with the Devil Yes Yes No
1999 Dying of Laughter Yes Yes No Also uncredited cameo role as "Espectador que grita a Bruno para que le enseñe las tetas"
2000 Common Wealth Yes Yes No
2002 800 Bullets Yes Yes Uncredited
2004 Ferpect Crime Yes Yes Yes
2008 The Oxford Murders Yes Yes Uncredited
2010 The Last Circus Yes Yes No
2011 As Luck Would Have It Yes No No
2013 Witching & Bitching Yes Yes No
2014 Messi Yes No No Documentary film about Lionel Messi
Words With Gods Segment director Segmenet writer Segment producer Segment "The Confession"
2015 My Big Night Yes Yes No
2017 The Bar Yes Yes Yes
Perfect Strangers Yes Yes Yes
2021 Venicephrenia Yes Yes Yes
2022 El cuarto pasajero Yes Yes Yes
TBD Mandrágora[15] Yes Yes Yes Pre-production

Producer only[edit]

Year Title Notes
2014 Shrew's Nest Presenter
2015 Los Heroes del Mal
2017 Skins
2018 Up Among the Stars
70 Big Ones
2022 La piedad (Piety)

Short film[edit]

Year Film Director Writer Notes
1990 Mirindas Asesinas Yes Yes Also art director
2000 ¡Enigma en el bosquecillo! Yes No
2006 El Codigo Yes Yes Also editor, sound and actor
Role: Interviewer (voice)
Hitler está vivo Yes Yes Also editor
2011 Cómicos Yes Yes Advertising Short
2013 El Contrato de Vodafone Yu Yes Yes
2018 Una vez en la vida Yes Yes Advertising short;

destroyed film

Other work[edit]

Year Film Work Notes
1988 Tú novia esta loca Collaborator Film
Mama Art director Short film
1991 Todo por la pasta Film
2014 Torrente 5 Script consultant


Year Film Director Writer Producer Notes
2006 The Baby's Room Yes Yes No TV movie
2008 Plutón B.R.B. Nero Yes Yes Co-Producer TV series;

also cameo in 1 episode as "El Padre"

2009 La tragedia de Franco Yes Yes No TV Short film;

also actor as himself

2020 30 Coins Yes Yes Executive TV series

As actor[edit]



  1. ^ JIMÉNEZ (@vinetabocadillo), JESÚS (2022-12-03). "Álex de la Iglesia, un cineasta hijo de Bruguera, Hergé y Moebius". RTVE.es (in Spanish). Retrieved 2023-01-25.
  2. ^ Mama (C) (1988) (in Spanish), retrieved 2023-01-25
  3. ^ "TU NOVIA ESTA LOCA". Blogmedia (in Spanish). Retrieved 2023-01-25.
  4. ^ "Mirindas asesinas de Álex de la Iglesia". Cine, cultura y turismo (in Spanish). 2022-12-30. Retrieved 2023-01-25.
  5. ^ Catsoulis, Jeannette (2011-08-19). "2 Clowns and the Surreal Pursuit of Love". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-01-25.
  6. ^ AV451, Redacción (2013-09-18). "Carlos Bernases: "'Las brujas de Zugarramurdi' ha sido una película muy complicada, la más compleja en la que yo he trabajado"". Audiovisual451 (in Spanish). Retrieved 2023-01-25.
  7. ^ "Las brujas de Zugarramurdi » Premios Goya 2023". www.premiosgoya.com. Retrieved 2023-01-25.
  8. ^ AV451, Redacción (2015-02-23). "El tándem Cerezo-De la Iglesia repite con 'Mi gran noche', una producción de cuatro millones de euros y un reparto de ensueño". Audiovisual451 (in Spanish). Retrieved 2023-01-25.
  9. ^ 20minutos (2018-01-15). "'Perfectos desconocidos', un fenómeno imparable en taquilla". www.20minutos.es - Últimas Noticias (in Spanish). Retrieved 2023-01-25.
  10. ^ "'The Fear Collection', un nuevo sello de cine de terror español | SPAIN". www.sonypictures.es. Retrieved 2023-01-25.
  11. ^ "'Veneciafrenia' tendrá su Premiere mundial en Sitges". Tu Cine Crítico (in European Spanish). 2021-08-06. Retrieved 2023-01-25.
  12. ^ "Directores Avalon". www.avalon.me (in Spanish). Retrieved 2023-01-25.
  13. ^ Ñ, createRedacción Cine con (2021-12-17). "30 MONEDAS es lo más visto en HBO Max España en 2021" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2023-01-25.
  14. ^ "Recuérdame que te odie – Dos Passos" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2023-01-25.
  15. ^ "'Mandrágora', el nuevo filme de Álex de la Iglesia". Deia. 20 July 2022.

External links[edit]