Arguably the most popular and important filmmaker to have emerged from Spain, director Pedro Almodovar remained faithful to his native Spain for the entirety of his career in order to assure he could make the films he wanted. Having earned his first substantial notice for the low-budget "Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls Like Mom" (1980), he thrived on making provocative films throughout the decade, culminating in his first international success, "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" (1988). Almodovar also made "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" (1990) and "Kika" (1993), both of which spurred the ire of the puritanical Motion Picture Association of America, which slapped near-pornographic ratings on the films - an action that sparked outrage from the director. Nonetheless, Almodovar would triumph with "Live Flesh" (1998), "All About My Mother" (1999) and "Talk To Her" (2002), three dark and poignant films that marked a substantial evolution in his filmmaking. Because of this, Almodovar - with a little help from his self-proclaimed cinematic muse, Penelope Cruz, by his side - entered the 21st century as a highly refined filmmaker, capable of earning the respect and adulation of international audiences while staying true to his native country.