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J. A. Bayona

J. A. Bayona

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Also Known As: Juan Antonio Bayona Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Barcelona, ES Profession:

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A longtime friend and eventual collaborator of acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, J.A. Bayona quickly moved to the forefront of contemporary Spanish directors. After cutting his teeth on music videos and short films, Bayona was encouraged by Del Toro to make the leap into features. With financing put in place by his mentor, Bayona directed "The Orphanage" (2007), a supremely spooky and dramatically potent horror thriller that enjoyed significant success in his native country and critical acclaim abroad. After being rumored for Hollywood projects, including one that would have reunited him with Del Toro, Bayona decided that his next project would be in English, but with financing from Spanish sources. Centered on the horrors endured by vacationers caught up in the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, "The Impossible" (2012) was acclaimed for both its intense recreation of the disaster and powerful dramatic story of separated family members trying to reunite in the wake of such an unimaginable tragedy. On the basis of his first two efforts, Bayona demonstrated considerable promise as a rare contemporary director with an equally firm hand when it came to the challenge of balancing technical proficiency...

A longtime friend and eventual collaborator of acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, J.A. Bayona quickly moved to the forefront of contemporary Spanish directors. After cutting his teeth on music videos and short films, Bayona was encouraged by Del Toro to make the leap into features. With financing put in place by his mentor, Bayona directed "The Orphanage" (2007), a supremely spooky and dramatically potent horror thriller that enjoyed significant success in his native country and critical acclaim abroad. After being rumored for Hollywood projects, including one that would have reunited him with Del Toro, Bayona decided that his next project would be in English, but with financing from Spanish sources. Centered on the horrors endured by vacationers caught up in the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, "The Impossible" (2012) was acclaimed for both its intense recreation of the disaster and powerful dramatic story of separated family members trying to reunite in the wake of such an unimaginable tragedy. On the basis of his first two efforts, Bayona demonstrated considerable promise as a rare contemporary director with an equally firm hand when it came to the challenge of balancing technical proficiency with the ability to create affecting human drama.

Juan Antonio Bayona was born in Barcelona, Spain in 1975. His love of movies was engendered in childhood, though Bayona first explored journalism as a career in his late teens before enrolling in the directing program at the Cinema and Audiovisual School of Catalunya (ESCAC). Upon finishing his studies, Bayona acted as an instructor for six years and then went into production on commercials and music videos, before tackling the short films "Mis Vacaciones" ("My Holidays") (1999) and "El Hombre Esponja" ("The Sponge Man") (2002). Bayona first met Guillermo Del Toro at the Sitges Fantasy Film Festival in 1993 and found a kindred spirit when it came to his love of horror and fantasy cinema. The two stayed friends, and 14 years later, Del Toro served as executive producer on Bayona's feature directorial debut "The Orphanage" (2007). A wonderfully creative and atmospheric gothic thriller with a superbly balanced mix of drama and horror, "The Orphanage" received a lengthy standing ovation when unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival. Box office success in Spain followed and while it did not rival the significant business that Del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" (2006) managed in the United States, the numbers were respectable and American critical response was very enthusiastic. Bayona was also honored with a Goya Award (Spain's equivalent to an Oscar) for Best New Director.

While in between motion picture projects, Bayona made a rare appearance in front of the camera by taking part in "Spanish Movie" (2009), a parody of local cinema that featured appearances by such other notable Spanish directors as Álex de la Iglesia and Paco Plaza. Bayona also collaborated with Sergio G. Sánchez, the screenwriter of "The Orphanage," on an elaborate music video for Keane's song "Disconnected." Set in a haunted house during the 1970s, the spot was highly polished and cinematic, right down to its widescreen framing and simulated instances of film damage. In the wake of the critical response stateside to "The Orphanage," Bayona was courted by Hollywood. Universal announced plans to reteam him with Del Toro for an adaptation of David Moody's novel "Hater," but the project did not come to pass. He was also considered by Summit Entertainment to helm "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" (2010), the third entry in the company's hugely successful horror franchise. Although trade papers like Variety reported that Bayona was on the verge of being signed, he was never genuinely intent on doing the film, which was ultimately helmed instead by David Slade.

However, Summit and Bayona ended collaborating in a fashion nonetheless when the studio acquired the rights to his next picture, "The Impossible" (2012). Set during the horrific December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people, the film was based on the experiences of a family (headed up onscreen by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor) that was separated during the disaster and struggled to both survive and reunite in the aftermath. Working once again with Sánchez, Bayona recognized the dramatic possibilities of the premise as a way of examining the human condition via the manner in which both family members and strangers react in such a terrible situation. Reviewers praised the movie for its incredible, disturbing depiction of the destruction caused by the unstoppable wall of water and for the dramatic intensity generated by the survivors' struggles and solid performances. "The Impossible" proved to be a major box office attraction upon release in Spain in October 2012, where it established a new record for the largest opening weekend gross.

By John Charles

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

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CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

1999:
Made writing and directorial debut with short film "Mis vacaciones"
2007:
Feature directorial debut (as J.A. Bayona), "The Orphanage"
2009:
Acted in comedy feature "Spanish Movie"
2012:
Helmed first English language feature "The Impossible," about devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami; film starred Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor
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Education

ESCAC (Cinema and Audiovisual School of Catalunya): -

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