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Héctor Eduardo Babenco (February 7, 1946 – July 13, 2016)[1] was an Argentine-born Brazilian film director, screenwriter, producer and actor.[2] He worked in several countries including Argentina, Brazil and the United States. His best known films are Pixote (1980), Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), Ironweed (1987), At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1990) and Carandiru (2003).

Héctor Babenco
Hector Babenco.jpg
Babenco in São Paulo, Brazil
Born(1946-02-07)February 7, 1946
DiedJuly 13, 2016(2016-07-13) (aged 70)
OccupationFilm director and producer, screenwriter
Years active1973–2015


Life and careerEdit

Babenco was born in Buenos Aires and raised in Mar del Plata. His mother, Janka Haberberg, was a Polish Jewish immigrant, and his father, Jaime Babenco, was an Argentine gaucho of Ukrainian Jewish origin.[3][4][5] Babenco lived in Europe from 1964 to 1968. In 1969, he decided to stay in São Paulo, Brazil, permanently. His first solo feature film as a director was King of the Night (1975).

Babenco had an international success with Pixote – A lei do mais fraco (1981).[6] It concerns Brazil's abandoned children. In the words of E. Ruby Rich while it concerns "a pair of boys who form a symbiotic sexual union", the film cannot "be held up as an example of how gay desire can be depicted, given its sensationalistic and sordid treatment of gay sex as accommodation, substitution, and punishment".[6] The film featured impressive work of young actor Fernando Ramos da Silva, 10 years old at the time, who was discovered in the suburbs of São Paulo. The film received numerous prizes.

For Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), Babenco was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, the first Latin American to be nominated in this category.

In 1994, Babenco fell ill and had to undergo a bone marrow transplant to treat a lymphatic cancer.[7]

He directed some of the most respected American actors of his time, including William Hurt, John Lithgow, Raul Julia, Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Tom Berenger, Daryl Hannah, Aidan Quinn and Kathy Bates.

In 2012 Babenco was part of the jury in the 34th Moscow International Film Festival.[8]

His last film was My Hindu Friend (2016), which stars Willem Dafoe. It recounts the story of a film director close to death.[9]


  Indicates a documentary   Indicates a short film
List of films directed by Héctor Babenco
Year Original title English release title Language(s) Notes
1973 O Fabuloso Fittipaldi   Portuguese Co-directed with Roberto Farias. Documentary on Emerson Fittipaldi.
1975 O Rei da Noite King of the Night Portuguese
1977 Lúcio Flávio: O Passageiro da Agonia Lucio Flavio / Lúcio Flávio Portuguese
1980 Pixote: A Lei do Mais Fraco Pixote / Pixote: The Law of the Weakest Portuguese
1984 A Terra É Redonda como Uma Laranja   Portuguese Brazilian-argentinian co-production.
1985 Kiss of the Spider Woman - English, French, Portuguese, German Brazilian-american co-production.
1987 Ironweed - English
1991 At Play in the Fields of the Lord - English Brazilian-american co-production.
1998 Corazón Iluminado Foolish Heart Spanish Brazilian-argentinian-french co-production.
2003 Carandiru - Portuguese Brazilian-argentinian-italian co-production.
2005 Carandiru: Outras Histórias - Portuguese TV series. Director of two episodes.
2007 El Pasado The Past Spanish, French, English, Portuguese Brazilian-argentinian co-production.
2014 El Hombre que Robó Un Pato   The Man That Stole a Duck Spanish Mexican-american co-production. Segment of Words with Gods (2014).
2015 Meu Amigo Hindu My Hindu Friend English, Portuguese


Awards and nominationsEdit


  1. ^ Globo: "Hector Babenco morre aos 70 anos" July 14, 2016
  2. ^ Héctor Babenco at the Internet Movie Database.
  3. ^ Alex Bellos talks to Hector Babenco
  4. ^ Hector Babenco's Carandiru
  5. ^ The Lavender Screen: The Gay and Lesbian Films
  6. ^ a b Rich, E. Ruby (2013). "New Queer Cinema: The Director's Cut". Durham, N.C & London: Duke University Press. p. 151.
  7. ^ Héctor Babenco Archived 2004-12-16 at the Wayback Machine official web site.
  8. ^ Darmaros, Marina (2012-06-25). "Moscow International Film Festival has a Latin focus". Russia Beyond The Headlines. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
  9. ^ ""Kiss of the Spider Woman" director Hector Babenco dead at 70". CBS News. Retrieved 14 July 2016.

External linksEdit