Muñoz Suay, Ricardo

(1917-1997)
   In spite of an unremarkable career as director and a largely unimpressive list of actual credits, Ricardo Muñoz Suay is one of the central personalities in Spanish film under Franco for his support of dissident cinema and ambitious artistic initiatives as a producer, as well as for his collaborations as a scriptwriter, which helped to define the aesthetics of both the Nuevo cine español and the Escuela de Barcelona.
   Muñoz Suay became a Communist in 1932 and fought the Civil War on the Republican side. When the war was over, he was jailed for five years, but remained affiliated with the clandestine Communist party until 1962, where he was the officer in charge of cultural activities. Muñoz Suay became, consequently, the bridge between dissident ideologies in Franco's Spain and the film world. He started in the film industry as a critic before the war, and then, from 1951, carried out a range of minor tasks as assistant director (for instance in Esa pareja feliz [ That Happy Couple, Luis G. Berlanga and Juan Antonio Bardem, 1953 ] and ¡Bienvenido Mister Marshall! [ Welcome, Mr. Marshall! Luis G. Berlanga, 1953 ]) or production secretary. In 1955, he was one of the key players of the Salamanca Conversations and, to a large extent, he was the author of the final statement that sought a more fluid relationship between filmmakers and power structures.
   He was one of the founders of the UNINCI production company in its second period, backed by the communists, which supported Bardem's films of the 1950s (among others), and was also instrumental in getting Luis Buñuel back to Spain to direct Viridiana (1961). In the 1960s, he was one of the main players behind the Nuevo cine español initiatives, with particular support of such figures as Basilio Martín Patino and Francisco Regueiro. He was involved as assistant director in an important series of films including El verdugo (The Executioner, Luis G. Berlanga, 1963), Nueve cartas a Berta (Nine Letters to Berta, Basilio Martín Patino, 1966), Tuset Street (Jordi Grau, 1967), and Ditirambo (Gonzalo Suárez, 1969). Although from the mid-1960s he also helped to shape the aesthetics and the cohesion as a group of the Escuela de Barcelona movement, whose values he tirelessly promoted, his main credits for the remainder of the Franco period are as writer of genre films and co-writer in co-productions of the late 1960s. Between 1965 and 1970, he was also executive producer for Filmscontacto, and then until 1985 he worked for Profilmes, backing work by Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón, Jaime Camino, and even Joseph Losey.
   After the Franco period, his work behind the scenes in support of free expression was finally brought to attention. He contributed to the foundation of the Valencian Filmoteca in 1985, an institution he led until 1990. He was awarded the Medal for Fine Arts in 1990.

Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. . 2010.

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