Oscar-winning director accused of illegally killing bulls during the making of his new film

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The Independent Culture

Animals rights activists have filed a complaint against the film writer-director Pedro Almodovar and his production company for allegedly killing four bulls while shooting the new film Talk to Her.

The complaint, filed before the Madrid regional environmental department, argues that Spanish-born Almodovar and his production company El Deseo violated an animal protection law under which any film scene purporting to show cruelty to, mistreatment of or suffering by animals must be mock, not the real thing.

Almodovar, whose movie All About My Mother won an Oscar for best foreign language film last year, started shooting of Talk to Her in June. The film features Spanish singer Rosario Flores who plays a female bullfighter.

El Deseo confirmed that, between 25 and 26 June, Almodovar shot a scene in which four bulls were killed in the bullring of Aranjuez, a town near of Madrid. The company insisted it had obtained all the necessary permits to do so.

"When we bought the bulls we never denied that it was for shooting a film. We haven't done anything illegal," said Paz Sufrategui, a spokeswoman for El Deseo, yesterday.

She said that, for the bullfight scenes, they hired a pupil from a Madrid bullfighting school. "The bullfight was conducted in the least painful way possible.".

But animal rights activists questioned that version of events. "Some people close to the shooting told us that an inexperienced bullfighter had made a slaughter with those animals to shoot the scene of the film," Matilde Cubillo, president of Animal Amnesty in Madrid, the association that filed the complaint, told the state news agency EFE.

Almodovar, whose previous films – such as Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown and Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! – have previously attracted controversy for their overt sexual content, could face a fine of between 250,000 pesetas (£950) and 2.5 million pesetas (£9,500), if it is proven, after investigation, that he broke the law.