JA Bayona Brings a Spanish Civil War Book Classic to the Big Screen

Spaniard JA Bayona, director of “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” and two episodes of “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power”, is developing an adaptation of Manuel Chaves Nogales’ short story collection “A sangre y fuego”, now considered by some in Spain to be the best representation by a Spaniard of his terrible Spanish Civil War.

Bayona is working with writer-director Agustín Díaz Yanes (“Alatriste”, “Gold”, “Don’t Tempt Me”) to develop a screenplay based on the book by Chaves Nogales, who died in exile in London in 1944.

Speaking on stage at the Seville European Film Festival, which opened on Friday, Bayona said he had been developing the project for several years and was “particularly interested in the humanistic vision” that Chaves Nogales showed in the fictional book.

Written from 1936 to 1937 by Chaves Nogales in reaction to what he called “the stupidity and cruelty that reigned over Spain” during the Spanish Civil War, practiced by both the far right and the far left, “A sangre y fuego” includes nine different stories. .

They range from a tale of Republican executions in a Madrid bombarded by the forces of Franco and his fascist allies to an Andalusian marquis who sets out to drive out the Communists with his personal death squad to a militiawoman who saves the life of a compassionate right-wing lawyer.

Although fictional, all stories are based on real events, writes Chaves Nogales in a preface.

Bayona told Seville he had been in contact with the writer’s family for some time and had met the writer’s daughter, Pilar, who died in 2021 aged 101 . She gave the director her important testimony and other information. for the project.

The director spoke at the festival with the Spanish journalist Gerardo Sánchez, director of the program La 2 Días de Cine and Charo Ramos, journalist and coordinator of the cycle.

Turning her attention to her directing career, Bayona said, “When I was very young, there were TV series about Hitchcock or Truffaut or Kurosawa or Spielberg. And I liked them anyway, they were auteur films, and they were accessible films,” a description that could be applied to his own films.

He added: “Watching started to make me realize that I was much less interested in reality than in cinema, and around it I articulated my reality, I found a refuge. I don’t remember not a moment when I decided to become a director. He was always there, it was a total vocation.

Bayona started her career in music videos. “It was a school for me. I’ve always been fascinated by Spielberg and Polanski, directors who practically tackle a different genre in each of their films. So I saw in the clips an opportunity to make my own little films.

Bayona is currently working on the post-production of the feature film “Society of the Snow”, based on the book of the same name by Pablo Vierci. The film, shot in Spanish, tells the story of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, which crashed into a glacier in the Andes in 1972. The book tells the story of the 16 survivors on board.

The film marks Bayona’s return to Spanish-language cinema for the first time in 16 years since her 2006 feature debut, “The Orphanage,” a big hit at the Cannes Film Festival that year.

John Hopewell contributed to this article.

Angela C. Hale