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Alejandro Amenábar

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Alejandro Amenábar
Amenábar in 2015
Alejandro Fernando Amenábar Cantos

(1972-03-31) 31 March 1972 (age 52)
Santiago, Chile
  • Chile
  • Spain
Years active1992–present
David Blanco
(m. 2015; div. 2019)

Alejandro Fernando Amenábar Cantos (born 31 March 1972) is a Chilean-Spanish film director, screenwriter and composer.[1][2] He has won nine Goyas—including a Goya Award for Best Director for his 2001 film The Others— two European Film Awards and one Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for The Sea Inside among other honors. He has written (or co-written) the screenplays to all seven of his films and composed almost all of their soundtracks.

Early life


Amenábar was born in Santiago, Chile, to a Chilean father, Hugo Ricardo Amenábar, and a Spanish mother, Josefina Cantos.[2] He has both Chilean and 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.[2] Alejandro is the younger of two brothers; his older brother, Ricardo, was born in 1969.[2]

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 there in 1972.[2]

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).[2]



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.[2]

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.[2]

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.[2]

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 full length 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.[3][4]

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.[citation needed]

After a hiatus of almost seven years, Amenábar returned in 2015 with the thriller Regression, starring Ethan Hawke and Emma Watson. The film had its world premiere at the San Sebastián International Film Festival in September 2015, where reviews were lukewarm.[5]

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.[6] On 18 July 2015, he married David Blanco.[7] Their divorce was finalised in 2019. Amenábar was raised Catholic, but later became agnostic and is now atheist.[8]




Denotes films that have not yet been released
Year Title Director Writer Producer Composer Notes
1996 Thesis Yes Yes Associate Yes
1997 Open Your Eyes Yes Yes No Yes
1999 Butterfly's Tongue No No No Yes
Nobody Knows Anybody No No No Yes
2001 The Others Yes Yes No Yes
2004 The Sea Inside Yes Yes Yes Yes Also editor
2009 Agora Yes Yes Yes No
2010 For the Good of Others No No Yes No
2015 Regression Yes Yes Yes No
2019 While at War Yes Yes Yes Yes
The Captive Yes

Short film

Year Title Director Writer Producer Composer Editor Actor Role Notes
1991 La cabeza Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Extraño
1992 Himenópetro Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Bosco
1993 En casa de Diego No No No Yes Yes No Also cinematographer
Antes del beso No No No Yes Yes No
1994 Al lado del Atlas No No No Yes No No Also sound editor
Luna Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Camarero Also sound
1995 Luna Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Remake of his medium length film Luna (1994)
1997 Como se hizo Tesis No No Executive Yes No Yes Self Documentary Short
1998 Allanamiento de morada No No No Yes No No
2004 El soñador No Idea Yes No No No
2015 Vale Yes Yes No No No No Advertising short
2017 Danielle Yes Yes No No No No


Year Title Director Writer Notes
2021 La Fortuna Yes Yes Miniseries[10]


  1. ^ "Q&A: Alejandro Amenabar". The Hollywood Reporter. 17 May 2009. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Berthier, Nancy (2007). Le cinéma d'Alejandro Amenabar. Toulouse: Presses universitaires du Mirail-Toulouse. ISBN 9782858168781. OCLC 421741517.
  3. ^ Carvajal, Doreen (2005-03-07). "Oscar propels Spanish film and its director". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-06-18.
  4. ^ "La Biennale - Cinema - News". 2004-09-15. Archived from the original on 15 September 2004. Retrieved 2022-06-18.
  5. ^ Regression. Variety (2013-10-31). Retrieved on 2014-05-22.
  6. ^ "Amenábar habla de su homosexualidad" (in Spanish). Espectáculos. 31 August 2004. Archived from the original on 3 September 2004. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  7. ^ "Alejandro Amenábar se casa este sábado: todas las fotos de su romance" (in Spanish). Vanitatis. 18 July 2015. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  9. ^ Juesas, María (30 October 2023). "Alejandro Amenábar, tras los pasos de Miguel de Cervantes: el director de 'Tesis' y 'Mar adentro' rodará una película sobre el escritor de 'Don Quijote de la Mancha'". Fotogramas.
  10. ^ Herrera, Nuria (25 February 2021). "Alejandro Amenábar comparte un avance de 'La Fortuna', su primera serie para Movistar". Diez Minutos.