About the birth of the academy

My memories regarding the birth of the Academy are few, but I think they are enough, since its gestation was relatively short, maybe not in time, but in its articulation as a common firm for film makers.
Historically, there had been several attempts to set it up, among which I remember, especially, that of José Antonio Rojo, a pioneer of this idea. But I think the present Academy emerges from the meeting I had, as President of the National Film Archive, with Enrique Tierno Galván, to whom we requested a place that could become some sort of house or club for film makers. Tierno, as mayor, got us in touch with professor Enjuto, who, at the time, was the administrator of the land and pavilions of the former Feria del Campo (an international biannual exhibition held at the Casa del Campo, Madrid), and he, with a manifest generosity, let us choose the pavilion we thought to be the most adequate to try and bring together the whole profession. The agreement stated that use of the building must be clearly global, and could not be lent to any trade-union organization or sectorial associations. We chose the Pabellón de Alicante (Pavilion of Alicante), because the group that started this operation, among whom I recall Julián Marcos and Antonio Gómez Rufo, thought it was the most adaptable to our needs. This choice was later confirmed by Conchita Fernández Montesinos and Antonio Artero. Conchita drew up a preliminary plan with two projection rooms and enough rooms for conferences, workshops, meetings, etc.

Now we only had to make the film people make up their mind to form a professional and inter-professional association which served as the starting point to sign the protocol to receive the building.

But I was not born to be a manager. The rest of the team we had put together didn’t manage to get anybody interested in the project either, so enough time went by for us to lose the precious gift we had been given.

Fortunately, during that time, one of the people who were contacted to carry out the project was very interested in the idea and he promised he’d try to get the Academy going, which is the name we had started using for our beloved professional association.

I’m talking about Alfredo Matas. His promise was kept some years later, when he called a group of film makers for lunch to talk seriously about the set up of the Academy. From this meeting I remember José Sacristán, Charo López, Carlos Saura, Manuel Matji, José Nieto, Tedy Villalba, Marisol Carnicero, Carlos Suárez, Ramiro Gómez, Pablo del Amo and José Luis Matesanz, and if I forgot any names it is not because of lack of affection, for we were all friends as well as film makers.

There were discrepancies, of course, some people who couldn’t even see the use of the Academy, but the full name came out of that meeting, an imitation of Hollywood. There, we also started to work so that the Foundation Charter could be signed on 8 January 1986, with the man we thought would be the best to preside over the institution, José María González-Sinde. Everything that happened after that date is for the record books; perhaps, in any case, I should add a new failure of mine: the talks I had with Fernando Chueca, president of the Spanish Institute, so that our newly born could be part of this distinguished institution, together with all the other Royal Academies. His answer was that our permanent academics widely exceeded the average of fifty members that the rest of the professional academies of the Institute had. But, I think you will all agree, we preferred to expand our list of registered members, even at the expense of loosing certain honours.

Luis García Berlanga

* “Cuadernos de la Academia: Doce (Historia de la Academia, 1986-1998)”. Academia de las Artes y las Ciencias Cinematográficas de España, Madrid, 1998.