Carmen Maura delights audience at MAXXI – 26 January 2013

Carmen Maura at MAXXI, Rome
Iconic Spanish actress Carmen Maura has been in Rome recently filming Italian director Angelo Maresca's movie debut La Madre. Before flying home to Spain she took the time to meet the public and press on Saturday in a special event at the MAXXI museum organised by the Fondazione Cinema per Roma and hosted by Mario Sesti. Arriving at the museum I was relieved that I'd decided to get there early - many eager fans had already started forming a queue to get a chance to see her a good hour before she was due to appear. Little did I imagine, as I waited in line, that after the conversation on stage, not only would I get my copy of ¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto!! autographed, but I would also manage to exchange a few words with her. Several days have elapsed and I'm still feeling a little starstruck!

Mario Sesti is well known to cinephiles in Rome as one of the regular presenters of the Rome Film Festival encounters with actors and directors. He typically encourages an informal approach in his interviews - relaxed conversation and anecdotes follow the presentation of film clips – a technique which works particularly well when faced with a warm and generous conversationalist like Carmen Maura. Utterly vivacious, and speaking in Italian, with only the occasional smattering of Spanish – there was an interpreter on stand-by who had very little to do for most of the afternoon – Carmen Maura was an absolutely delightful guest.

Most famous internationally for her collaborations with Pedro Almodóvar there were clips from a selection of their movies together including Law of Desire, which the actress said epitomised the very best of their working relationship and brought a lump to her throat as she watched the famous water hydrant scene, and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, which was, instead, an unhappy experience and marked the beginning of a professional estrangement which only ended with Volver (significantly meaning “return” in Spanish) almost twenty years later.

Meeting Carmen Maura
Ms Maura has worked with many other directors in the course of her long career and Sesti also showcased her Goya-winning performances in Álex de la Iglesia's La Comunidad, and Carlos Saura's Ay, Carmela!, as well as international parts in Francis Ford Coppola's Tetro and Damiano Damiani's Assassini dei Giorni di Festa. Asked about the state of cinema in these times of economic depression, she drew a parallel between her native Spain and Italy - unlike other nations, we are accustomed to hardship - but was refreshingly frank in her criticism of US directors such as Woody Allen, whom she sees as exploiting the difficult economic situation in Europe when filming in Spain and Italy. She had nothing but praise for everybody involved in her own experience of working in Italy, however, thanking everyone from her driver with whom she practised her Italian every day, to the crew and director.

Watch some highlights from the Carmen Maura event at MAXXI below (or click here to watch on You Tube).