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Director Focus: Juan Antonio Bayona

Despite only having two major films to his name so far, young director Juan Antonio Bayana has already proved himself to be a filmmaker of immense talent and vision.


Born in Barcelona, Spain in 1975, Bayana’s first career was as a journalist. His love of film led to him studying the art of directing at ESCAC, the Cinema and Audiovisual School of Catalonia. After graduating, his first professional assignments were as director of a number of music videos for Spanish groups such as OBK and Camela. He would also direct two short films released in Spain during this period – My Holidays and The Spongeman.

Juan Antonio Bayana’s first full-length feature film was released to much acclaim from audiences and critics alike in 2007. Showing movie-goers what great talent this young director from Spain had to offer, The Orphanage is a tense horror tale concerning a young boy and his imaginary friend. The film was produced by friend and fellow filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, who first met Bayana back in 1993. Receiving its premiere at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, The Orphanage wowed audiences and went on to become the second highest-grossing debut film in Spanish film history. It would also prove to be a hit in cinemas worldwide.

A Number of Offers

The success of The Orphanage would lead to many offers coming Juan Antonio Bayana’s way but he turned the majority of them down. In fact, it would be another five years before audiences would be treated to the talents of this fiercely independent director again. Telling the harrowing, real-life story of the Indian Ocean tsunami which completely devastated most of South Asia in 2004, The Impossible was released to yet more critical acclaim in 2012.

Juan Antonio Bayana is one of the brightest film talents to emerge from Spain in many years and, with his directorial career still in its infancy, has proved himself to be a most intelligent film maker with the enviable knack of pleasing both audiences and critics alike.

Picture: demarco