Born in the Cantabrian town of Torrelavega in 1942, he graduated in Arts before earning his degree in Filmaking from Spain’s Official Film School in 1970. In 1973 he made his feature film debut with ‘Speak, Little Mute Girl’, produced by Elías Querejeta and awarded the Critics’ Prize at the Berlin Festival. In the following two years he wrote the screenplays for ‘Trout’, ‘Poachers’, and ‘Long Vacations of 36’, and established himself as one of the best directors of his generation with ‘Black Litter’ (1977, Best Director at Berlin), Somnambulists’ (1977, Best Director at San Sebastian) and ‘Heart of the Forest’ (1978, Silver Fotogramas for the Best Spanish Film of the year).
His award-winning filmography includes other awards such as the Golden Shell at the San Sebastian Festival for ‘Half of Heaven’ (1986) and the Silver Spike at Seminci for ‘Things I Left in Havana’ (1997). He competed again in the Berlin Official Selection with ‘King of the River’ (1995) and ‘Your Next Life’ (2004).
He also directed films such as ‘Maravillas’ (1980), ‘ Demons in the Garden’ (1982, Best Film at the Moscow Festival) and ‘Misadventure’ (1988), before filming for television the series
‘Don Quixote’ (1991) which premiered in Valladolid, just as his 2002 feature film ‘ Don Quixote, Knight Errant’.
He has been president of the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (SGAE), of the Fundación Autor and of the Federation of European Screen Directors (FERA). He is also a member of the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando and a full member of the Real Academia Española. In 2005 he was presented with the National Film Award and in 2012 with the Gold Medal of the Spanish Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts.
In 2008 he announced his retirement from film directing and a year later he debuted in literature with ‘La vida antes de marzo’, winner of the Herralde Novel Award. He has subsequently published, always with Anagrama, the books ‘Gloria mía’ (2012), ‘Cuando el frío llegue al corazón’ (2013), ‘A los actores’ (2015), ‘El ojo del cielo’ (2018) and ‘Rodaje’ (2021).