Víctor Erice lived in San Sebastián as a child and adolescent. At the age of 17, he moved to Madrid to study at the university. In 1960, he enrolled in the Official Cinematography School, where he earned a diploma in Film Direction. In 1968, he made his debut as a professional director, filming one of the three episodes of Los desafíos (The Challenges), in which Claudio Guerín and José Luis Egea also participated. In 1973, he made his first feature film, El espíritu de la colmena (The Spirit of the Beehive), which won the Golden Shell at the San Sebastián International Film Festival that same year. In 1983, he directed El sur (The South), based on a story of the same name by Adelaida García Morales, a work he has always considered unfinished. In 1992, he made El sol del membrillo (The Quince Tree Sun, or Dream of Light) in conjunction with the painter Antonio López, which went on to win the Jury Prize and International Critics’ Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2002, he filmed Alumbramiento (Lifeline), one of the episodes in the feature film Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet, in which other prominent international filmmakers also participated, including Aki Kaurismäki, Jim Jarmusch, Win Wenders, Werner Herzog and Spike Lee.
In 2005, in response to a request from the Centre de Cultura Contemporània in Barcelona, and within the context of the exhibition titled Erice–Kiarostami. Correspondence, he started to direct the series of short films Letters to Abbas Kiarostami. For that same show, in December 2005 he wrote and directed La Morte Rouge. Simultaneously, he made a video installation based on several Antonio López paintings titled Fragor del Mundo, Silencio de la Pintura (The Clamour of the World, the Silence of Painting), which was exhibited at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània in Barcelona, La Casa Encendida in Madrid, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) in Melbourne.
He has also worked on the documentary series Memoria y sueño (Memory and Dream), three chapters of which have been produced so far: Roma, Città Aperta, Sierra de Teruel and Le Mépris. In 2011, he filmed Ana, tres minutos (Ana, Three Minutes), an episode in the feature film A Sense of Home. In 2012, he filmed Vidros partidos (Broken Windows) in Portugal, part of the feature film Centro histórico (Historical Centre), co-directed by Manoel de Oliveira, Pedro Costa and Aki Kaurismäki. Finally, in 2018 he made Plegaria (Prayer), a short film based on photographs he had taken over the course of several years.
Víctor Erice has taught many classes, seminars and workshops, particularly since the 1990s. This is how he shares his experience as a director, while also continuing to reflect on cinematography. He has written numerous articles for newspapers, magazines and books and has delivered lectures and lessons in Spain and abroad, particularly in Europe but also in Japan and the United States. He has also led workshops exploring the processes of writing, filming and editing.