Controversial Spanish film wins Oscar

28th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

28 February 2005, HOLLYWOOD-Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar's stormy euthanasia saga "The Sea Inside" won the best foreign-language film Oscar at the 77th-annual Academy Awards.

28 February 2005

HOLLYWOOD-Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar's stormy euthanasia saga "The Sea Inside" won the best foreign-language film Oscar at the 77th-annual Academy Awards.

The film, based on the true story of Ramon Sampedro, a quadriplegic former ship mechanic who wants to commit suicide, has proved a smash hit but also provoked a massive debate in Spain about the morality of euthanasia.

Javier Bardem's portrayal of Sampedro has held millions of cinemagoers transfixed as he plays out a man's losing battle in the Spanish court system for the legal right to an assisted suicide and a dignified death.

Sampedro's three-decade struggle after an accident left him almost completely paralysed culminated in his taking his own life in 1998 at the age of 55 with the help of close associates.

The movie, uplifting despite its twin themes of illness and death, had already picked up a flurry of awards in Spain before it was short listed for the Oscar here alongside Sweden's "As It Is In Heaven", French film "The Chorus", German contender "Downfall" and South Africa's "Yesterday".

Last month, Amenabar and Bardem dominated Spain's top movie awards ceremony, winning 14 Goya Awards, including best film, best director for Amenabar and best actor for Bardem.

The movie was filmed in Sampedro's windswept northwestern home region of Galicia, as well as in the Seychelles, and throughout around 10 weeks of filming Bardem doggedly insisted on staying in character and remaining bed-bound between takes.

In sweeping the board, "The Sea Inside" left renowned Oscar-winning Spanish director Pedro Almodovar's nose out of joint.

Almodovar's "Bad Education" failed to pick up any awards, leading the director- whose 2002 film "Talk To Her" won an Oscar for best original screenplay, and whose 1999 offering "All About My Mother" won in the best foreign-language film category -to quit the Spanish Film Academy in a row
over voting procedures.

"The Sea Inside" also bagged the Silver Lion award at the Venice International Film Festival.

A month ago, art met reality as a Spanish woman admitted to assisting in Sampedro's suicide, prompting a judicial probe.

The Galician branch of the Association for the Right to Die with Dignity said it would back Ramona Maneiro all the way after she admitted in a television interview that she had helped the sailor end his days by taking cyanide.

According to the association, 12 people were involved, aside from Sampedro.

"He guided me; I was his hands," the 44-year-old Maneiro told Spain's TeleCinco television channel.

Maneiro, who was regularly at Sampedro's side during his final months, was arrested after helping with the suicide, but a legal case against her collapsed without a conviction.

Amenabar's previous offerings included "Abre Los Ojos" ("Open your Eyes"), which evolved into the remake "Vanilla Sky" with Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz, and the moody "The Others", starring Nicole Kidman.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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