“I want to start by remembering that twenty-one years ago I was just in this state for the first time,” Pedro Almodovar said before “Broken Embraces” screened Sunday as the closing night film of the New York Film Festival. “And here we are in the same place. I’m very happy because I love this town, I love this festival, and I love this state. In twenty-one years, the festival became like part of my family.”
Almodovar, referencing the 1988 NYFF screening of his “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” went on to explain that that particular fest was also where he began his “very important relationship” with Sony Pictures Classics.
“For me this is to celebrate the twenty-first anniversary of these very two very important relations – ours to this festival and to Sony Pictures Classics,” Almodovar said. “They became like the best bridges between my movies and my country and my future and this town and this country and this future. To them I say, I love you very much.”
Sony Classics – who has released the vast majority of Almodovar’s films in the U.S. since their inaugural partnering on “Breakdown” – is releasing “Embraces” this November. The film, which debuted at Cannes earlier this year, follows a blind writer revisiting series of events that led up to a car crash that took both his vision and his lover, Lena. Penelope Cruz – another major partnership for Almodovar – plays Lena.
“A few years ago, I was here with her,” Almodovar mused before introducing his now four-time star Cruz to the stage. “And in these few years, she has achieved a very handsome, good boyfriend, two Oscar nominations, one Oscar, and the respect and admiration of the profession. She’s generous, she’s beautiful, and she’s here!”
Cruz joked that she “hadn’t prepared a speech” when she took the stage. “Improvise,” Almodovar responded, turning to the audience. “I’m her director, always…”
The typically radiant looking actress did just that, thanking the many friends she had in the audience and joining Almodovar in NYFF reminiscing.
“I really love this city, I really love this festival,” she said. “We have very good memories of being here together. And this has been a really great experience for us to make this movie. I just hope you feel a lot of things watching it, [because] I felt a lot of things making it.”
Almodovar concluded his film’s introduction by explaining that “Embraces” was a film conceived under the impression that it would need to be seen twice.
“What else can I say about ‘Broken Embraces’,” he said. “You know, my first idea was – I’m serious – it was to [make two movies]. A movie in two parts, two different movies. The first one would be ‘Broken Embraces,’ and the second part would be again, the same movie, ‘Broken Embraces’… It doesn’t mean it’s impossible to understand the movie the first time. You will get it. You are very intelligent, very sophisticated. That’s how they sell this festival, ‘A very sophisticated audience in New York.’ You don’t think about that when you go to Kentucky. No… but it’s true that I always recommend to see it a second time. But you are here, and I really appreciate that. Thank you so much for being here.”