If you saw the thriller The Others with Nicole Kidman or the surreal Vanilla Sky with Tom Cruise, you were watching the work of Spain's most promising young director and screenwriter, Alejandro Amenábar. He has been a wunderkind director since his debut in 1996, but Amenábar's performance in 2001-02 just might make him an international phenomenon. He wrote and directed The Others in English and composed the score. He also wrote and directed Abre los Ojos, re-filmed as Vanilla Sky after rave reviews for the original at the Sundance Film Festival in 1998.

A film-school dropout, Amenábar, 29, made several shorts that caught the eye of a Spanish producer, who funded his first feature-length film, Tésis. The thriller won several awards. Born in Chile, Amenábar and his family moved to Spain to escape the Pinochet dictatorship. Spaniards overlook his dual citizenship and claim him as theirs. Hollywood might soon be doing the same.

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