GIL PARRONDO: Projected Reality

The International Short Film Festival ‘Almería en Corto’ is hosting this exhibition on the professional life of Gil Parrondo, one of the best decorators in film history in terms of both the breadth of his work (including many of the biggest productions in Spanish and American cinema) as well as the mastery with which has envisioned, through his drawings, the settings for each of the films on which he has worked.

Born in Luarca in 1921, he has received all the awards for Spanish film and has two Oscars for his work on Patton (1970) and Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), both directed by Franklin J. Schaffner; and four Goyas for Canción de cuna (1995), You’re the One (una historia de entonces) (2001), Tiovivo c.1950 (2005) and Ninette (2006), all by José Luis Garci. He was nominated for an Oscar for George Cukor’s Travels with my Aunt.

Ever since Jeromín (Luis Lucia, 1953), one of the first films he worked on as an assistant, through to El libro de las aguas by Giménez Rico (2008), Gil Parrondo has always known how to meet the demands of producers and directors, with great wisdom when it comes to integrating exteriors and interiors and getting the overall atmosphere, long before American cinema would come up with the term “production designer”.

The artistic decorator, as Gil Parrondo prefers to be defined, plays a crucial part in making the sets for movies: Gil searches, locates, imagines and captures the setting of the story in a drawing. He makes a reading of what is needed from the screenplay, with attention to what the director imagines and desires, and he expresses it in drawings, or in bold collages or in models; he plans difficult fictional structures that are, at times, unified into the natural settings. In the end, he determines the terms for another fiction, as the final product will not be a building or a monument or a painting or a square. Rather it will be some other imaginary one expressed in the yards and yards of celluloid put to the service of fiction consumption, to satisfy the needs we all have of being told the stories we have all carried within us, ever since we had the capacity for reasoning.

Elías Palmero

Coordinator of the exhibition and catalogue

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