Between 1974 and 1979, he worked as a film critic for Spain's leading daily newspaper El País. In 1980, he founded the monthly film magazine Casablanca, which he edited and directed during its first two years. He is the author of Diccionario (Planeta 1997, Plot 2004, Galaxia Guttenberg 2006) and the editor of Diccionario del Jazz Latino (SGAE, 1998).
Among other awards, he has won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film with Belle Époque in 1994, the Goya Award as Best director three times, and a Silver Bear for Year of Enlightment at the 37th Berlin International film Festival. Miracle of Candeal won the Goya for Best Documentary, and Chico and Rita won the Goya for Best Feature animation. In 1999, The Girl of Your Dreams was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 49th Berlin International film Festival. In 2011 he won the Award of the Hungarian National Student Jury for Chico and Rita at the 7th Festival of European Animated Feature Films and TV Specials.
As a music producer, he has won two Grammy Awards and four Latin Grammy Awards.
He is the brother of David Trueba and the father of Jonás Trueba.