Leo’s legacy: Overcoming the success of Furtivos and failure of Río abajo | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 12, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2050-4837
  • E-ISSN: 2050-4845



Although Borau started out making genre films he hoped would have global reach, using strategies pioneered by European film-makers working in Hollywood, he experienced his greatest success with Furtivos (1975), his most exclusively Spanish film. This article explores how he returned to a transnational vision of Spain in Leo (2000), winner of Borau’s first Goya for best direction. Set in contemporary Spain, this melodrama converts the incestuous mother/son relationship from Furtivos into complex relations between a seductive young Leo and her paternalistic East European coach. Dealing with border-crossing, as he had done in Río abajo/On the Line (1984), Leo includes Romanian émigrés within Spain, who evoke the subaltern Romanis associated with Carmen. The narrative model being subverted is not only the Hollywood genre of noir but also the colonizing myth of Carmen, which limited Spaniards to national stereotypes. Drawing on his previous works, Leo demonstrates that transnational film-making is possible within Spain.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Carmen; D’Arrast; film noir; Leo; Romanian émigrés; transnationalism
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