Carlos Saura, the acclaimed Spanish auteur known for his political and flamenco-style dramas, has died at age 91. The Film Academy of Spain confirmed the news on Friday, writing that the director died at home “surrounded by his loved ones.”
The Academy noted that days before his passing, Saura received his statuette for the prestigious Goya de Honor he earned for his contributions to filmmaking.
“He has endowed the cinema with impeccable brushstrokes, with a language that has used his imagination to tell stories, with an expressiveness that only demonstrated his love for cinema, for art, for culture,” read the statement. “We could not understand Spanish cinema without Carlos Saura, without his personal contribution to the cinema of our time.”
Over the course of a career than spanned more than 50 films and six decades, Saura made his mark with his critical examinations of the Franco regime and the fallout of the Spanish Civil War. He won the Silver Bear at Berlin Film Festival for his breakout feature “The Hunt.” The 1966 drama follows three veterans of the war who reminisce on their trauma while hunting for rabbits.
His films “Deprisa, Deprisa!” (1981) and “Peppermint Frappé” (1967) won the Golden and Silver Bear, respectively. “The Delinquents” (1957), set in the aftermath of the war, became his first film to premiere at Cannes and is credited with introducing neorealism to Spain. Among the many titles he showed at the festival, he won a Special Jury Prize for “La Prima Angelicá” (1974), the Grand Jury Prize for “Raise Ravens” (1976) and the Grand Prix Technique for his 1983 adaptation of “Carmen.” In addition to “Carmen,” his Oscar-nominated works include “Mama Turns 100” (1979) and “Tango” (1998).
Born in Huesca, Spain on Jan. 4, 1932, Saura got his start making documentary shorts while teaching at the Official School of Cinematography.
His last film, “Walls Can Talk,” debuted at San Sebastian Film Festival last September. The documentary explores the origins and evolution of art through the use of walls as a canvas.
Antonio Banderas, who starred in his films “Diaspara!” and “33 Days,” shared a tribute to the director on Twitter.
“With Carlos Saura, a very important part of the history of Spanish cinema dies,” the actor wrote. “He leaves behind him an essential work for deep reflection on human behavior. Rest in peace, friend.”