Bigas Luna Dies

Jamón, Jamón director was 67

Acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Bigas Luna has died aged 67. The Catalan director had been battling leukemia.

Like his peer Pedro Almodóvar, Luna was a key voice in the new wave of Spanish filmmaking that emerged under the shadow of General Franco's repressive regime. He started out as a student of conceptual art and design, taking an early interest in visual technologies that would play into a lifelong passion for painting and photography.

Luna's filmmaking career began with low-budget flick Bilbao in 1978, a typically unrestrained, psychosexual drama, before 1981's Reborn - his only English-language film - pitched Dennis Hopper, a phony televangelist, into a relationship with a real faith healer. Anguish (1987) saw Luna turn out a Lynchian horror set in a movie theatre that would go on to achieve cult status.

Arguably, his purple patch stretched across a loose trilogy that began with 1981's Jamón, Jamón. That was followed by Golden Balls and, in 1994, The Tit And The Moon.

A provocateur behind the camera, Luna was also a gifted talent-spotter. Jamón marked Penélope Cruz's big-screen bow, while Javier Bardem, her co-star in the film, has credited the director with his subsequent success. "I owe my career to Bigas Luna," the actor said.

Luna is survived by his wife, Celia, and three daughters.