“All my life, ever since I was a child, I have dreamed of this moment. Dreams come true sometimes“. In 1983, José Luis Garci became the first Spanish director to receive an Oscar for a film that was not only Spanish, but also the first film shot in Spanish to receive the statuette. In this way, he fulfilled the dream that had not been achieved long before. a total of ten Spanish filmmakers since 1958, among them Luis García Berlanga or Jaime de Armiñán.Although Luis Buñuel did obtain the statuette, the award rewarded a French production shot in French, The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie (1972).
that was the the first time he was nominated for an Oscaran award to which he later aspired with continuous session (1984), Approved subject (1987) and Grandpa (1998). As he pointed out in an interview with the TCM channel ten years ago, on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of that triumph, with Start over he did not doubt for a moment that his film would be the winner. She was not even afraid when she saw that Pilar Miró, then general director of Cinematography, attended the gala in a black dress with yellow sleeves, the color of bad luck.
During the ceremony of the 55th edition of the Oscarsthe movie Ghandi, by Richard Attenborough, was the big winner with a total of eight awards, including best film and best direction. The American actress Luise Rainer was in charge of reading the name of the winner for the best foreign film -as announced at the time-, accompanied by the interpreter Jack Valenti. With great emotion and reading the title syllable by syllable, the director’s good feelings were fulfilled and, dressed in an elegant white tuxedo, he took the stage with more calm than is expected of a novice in this field.
With the Oscar in hand, Garci started his speech in English, the language in which he recounted the dream that winning that statuette meant, to later launch a series of thanks, among others, to his “partner and friend” José Esteban Alenda, Enrique Herreros -responsible for the long days of promotion in Hollywood prior to the Oscars- or Alfonso Sánchez. “All of us who have made this film are very happy and very grateful to you and also to all of us who make movies in my country, in Spain,” he said in Spanish at the end of his words.
With this Oscar, not only a production in Spanish was awarded for the first time, but it also symbolically opened the doors to Spain to a new moment of cultural effervescence in the new democratic era.
As José Luis Garci has recounted on several occasions, the path that took this film from the country’s movie theaters to the podium of international cinema was a succession of strokes of luck. The first, the choice of him to represent Spain, since it became the most favorable option for those who were not supporters, or of Beehiveby Mario Camus, or by demons in the garden, by Manuel Gutierrez Aragon. In addition, his arrival in Hollywood was preceded by his successes at the Berlin and San Sebastián Festivals.
This Oscar not only rewarded a production in Spanish for the first time, but also symbolically opened the doors to Spain to a new moment of cultural effervescence in a new democratic stage that had started. In this case, a film dedicated to the “interrupted generation” that lived its youth in the 30s was awarded.
Start over: nostalgia and mature love
In it, Antonio Ferrandis plays a professor at the American University of Berkeley who, after receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature, decides to return to his native Asturias, where he meets his youthful love, played by the actress Encarna Paso. Nostalgia, mature love and the figure of the exile are some of the central themes of a victorious film that, however, did not have the favorable opinion of the critics at first.
“The real possibility of opening markets in the English language may already exist, which is what it is about, and it serves to notify a personal opinion: Spanish cinema is the best in Europe and I refer to the facts. He has won in San Sebastián, he has won in Berlin and now he has won an Oscar“, Garci pointed out in statements to TVE after winning the Oscar for Start over.
In that same interview, the director emphasized the growing Spanish audience and the potential foreign audience. “It is not an individual victory. All of us who are committed to making films, perhaps with a small infrastructure, have an enormous flow of love, affection, vocation, and this serves to demonstrate that we are crazy, but we are fine“He said in that interview.