Date of Birth: March 31, 1972
Born in Santiago, Chile, Amenábar's family moved to Spain shortly after his birth because his Spanish mother feared Chile would soon endure a civil war. Raised in Spain, he was educated in Madrid where he entered the Sciences Information Faculty at Madrid's Complutense University. Not exactly a gifted student, Amenábar failed several times in his studies, and decided to give up studying cinema.
Instead of an education, he turned to making films, and in 1996 at the early age of 23, he released his first feature film, Tesis (Thesis), followed by Abre los ojos (Open Your Eyes) a year later (both of which he wrote, directed and scored). The two films were well received and were awarded numerous honors from the Goya awards, The Tokyo International Film Festival, and the Guadalajara Mexican Film Festival. Abre los ojos, which starred an up-and-coming Penelope Cruz, earned an additional honor when it was chosen to be re-filmed into an English version, entitled Vanilla Sky, starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, with Penelope reprising her role.
After filming a few more Spanish short films, he decided to make his third feature his English-language debut. The Others, starring Nicole Kidman, became the sleeper hit of summer 2001, and earned Amenábar multiple awards from all over the world including a BAFTA nomination and an ASCAP Award as a Top Box Office Film. His next film, The Sea Inside (2004), also won a slew of awards, including Best International Film at the Venice Film Festival. In 2010, he was nominated for both Best Director and Best Screenplay at the Goya Awards for Agora (2010), winning the latter.