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Pere Portabella

Since the 1960s, Portabella always maintained a political commitment with all those movements against the Franco dictatorship that supported individual and collective democratic liberties.  In 1977, he was elected senator in the first democratic elections and he participated in the writing of the present day Spanish Constitution.  He has presided over the Fundación Alternativas since 2001.

As a filmmaker Pere Portabella has been a relevant presence in the Spanish film world for the last fifty years. With Films 59, his production company, he fostered some of the most emblematic films in the history of Spanish cinema.  Los Golfos by Carlos Saura (1959), El cochecito by Marco Ferreri (1960) and Viridiana by Luis Buñuel (1961). He directs his own creations combining a heritage of avant-garde culture with breakaway forms of language. His films, Vampir-Cuadecuc (1970) and Umbracle (1972), constitute radical interventions in artistic and cinematographic institutions.   A long interval ensues between Informe General in 1976 and his return to his work as film maker and producer at present, during which he enters the political/institutional world during the “Transition” period in Spain.

In 2001, his films became part of the artistic collection of the MACBA.   In 2002, he was the only Spanish artist invited to participate in Documenta 11 in Kassel.  In 2003, the Centre Pompidou organized a homage for Portabella and acquired one of his films for its collection.  Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago and New York have all organized exhibits and screenings of his films.  The Buenos Aires Film Festival and the “Mostra Internacional del Nuevo Cinema” of Pesaro have both programmed retrospective exhibits in 2006. 

Pere Portabella
"I have never separated my work as a filmmaker from my thoughts and political experience. I've never separated my political activity from the cinema I do."
"Language is for thinking, intended for structuring and building new codes that allow a projection of your commitment to others, appropriate to the historical context in which we live."
"Art is everything we can come to feel or sense in abstract form, using paradoxes, metaphors and allegories to advance and open up areas of knowledge in both art, science and politics."

His film, Die Stille vor bach (The Silence before Bach), was selected for the “Mostra Internacionale de Arte Cinematográfico di Venecia” and was screened in 2007 at MoMA as part of a retrospective exhibit of his work as a whole. After this, he realized Mudanza in 2008, a film commissioned by Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Informe general II. El Nuevo rapto de Europa (General Report II. The New Abduction of Europe), his last feature film until date, which was premiered at Rotterdam International Film Festival, inside a retrospective of his work.

Among the institutional distinctions he has received are the Creu de Sant Jordi from Generalitat de Catalunya (1999), National Award of Cinema from Generalitat de Catalunya (2009), Gaudí d’Honor Award from Acadèmia del Cinema Catalá (2012), Gold Medal for Cultural Merit from Ajuntament de Barcelona (2019), Palme d’Or from Cannes Film Festival (1961) for Buñuel’s film “Viridiana” and Giraldillo de Honor from the Festival de Sevilla (2019) in recognition of his career.

His most recent work has been the “reactivation” of El sopar (1974-2018), work filmed in 1974 in which some addenda were added.

Recently, diverse museums, film festivals and cinema institutions have organized screenings or retrospectives of his work, as Cinemateca Portuguesa (2017), Movie Mutations Zagreb (2019), FICUNAM (2019), Cineteca Nacional México (2019), Whitechapel Gallery and Close-Up (London, 2020) or Il Cinema Ritrovato di Bologna (2020). 

In 2009 Pere Portabella was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and by the Universitat de Girona in 2022. In 2019 Cambridge University organised a seminar on his work.

"Aesthetics is the result of ethics. Your aesthetic depends on what you tell me, how you say it, and what we do. Ethics is a pre-approach to doing something. For you are no one without the others."

Pere Portabella – Films 59

Rambla Catalunya 72, pral 1ª
08007 Barcelona
TLF. +34 932155612

Copyright ©. All rights reserved. Pere Portabella – Films 59.

Copyright ©. All rights reserved.

Pere Portabella – Films 59.