‘The snow society’: Juan Antonio Bayona will shoot the tragedy of the plane crash in the Andes in 1972 for Netflix | Culture

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Juan Antonio Bayona, in a file image.
Juan Antonio Bayona, in a file image.Samuel Sanchez

Fourteen years later, those that have elapsed since The orphanage, Juan Antonio Bayona (Barcelona, ​​46 years old) will shoot again in Spanish. Although the book The Snow Society, by Pablo Vierci, he has been around for years, Bayona has finally found someone to finance his production in Spanish, one of the indispensable conditions of this project for the filmmaker. “I have been with this project for so many years that the title of The impossible [2012] I got it out of Vierci’s book ”, the director tells EL PAÍS by phone from Barcelona. “I discovered it when I was documented for that film, and it marked me and that film. During the filming I would read excerpts to Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland ”.

In 2009, inspired by the documentary Castaways, From Gonzalo Arijón, Pablo Vierci, a friend of the 16 survivors of the plane crash in the Andes, decided to tell the story with the voice of those who suffered that tragedy. On October 13, 1972, a group of young Uruguayan athletes got on a plane in Mendoza (where they had spent the night because of a storm: they took off from Montevideo the day before) to fly to Santiago, Chile, where they had to play a rugby match. .

The twin-turboprop aircraft carried 40 travelers and five crew members, including the 19 members of the Old Christians Club rugby team, as well as their families, supporters and friends. The copilot, crossing the Andes with poor visibility, made a mistake on the route, after announcing his position incorrectly by radio, and the plane crashed into the mountain range. In the accident, 12 of the people on the flight died. The cold, injuries and an avalanche ended up reducing to 16 the number of survivors who managed to get ahead after 72 days of extremely harsh conditions. Among them, the lack of food: on the eleventh day, after hearing on a makeshift radio that the search efforts had been suspended, they decided to resort to cannibalism, and ate meat and marrow from the remains of the corpses of their friends.

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The fuselage of the plane in the Andes mountain range, in January 1973.
The fuselage of the plane in the Andes mountain range, in January 1973.URUGUAYAN AIR FORCE

Several books have been written about this odyssey, some of them memoirs of the protagonists, documentaries and even a Hollywood movie. They live! (1993), by Frank Marshall, with Ethan Hawke and Josh Hamilton. “What I am passionate about about Pablo’s book,” explains Bayona, “is that it delves into the key to survival. Thanks to other formats we know what happened, but we are not so aware of what happened to them. It is a psychological approach, about the transformation that they live inside ”. For this reason, recalls the filmmaker, when he read the book, he was struck by the fact “that the story, from this point of view, had never been told”.

Bayona has been preparing the material for years (“I have spent more than 100 hours gathering and recording the survivors”), and the script has been co-written with Bernat Vilaplana, Jaime Marques and Nicolás Casariego. “The book is broken down into 16 stories, one for each survivor, with what was going through each one of them,” he says. “Finding the angle has been the most difficult and at the same time most rewarding.” To be as realistic as possible, the cast is made up of “little known, all young” Uruguayan and Argentine actors, and it will be done in Spanish. “Necessary. A team has already worked for a month displaced in the Andes, filming even at the scene of the accident [el Valle de las Lágrimas, en la cara argentina de la cordillera], and I myself was on the site, because I wanted to live that experience. I even slept there one night. Geography is essential to understand what happened ”.

Principal photography begins in January, in Sierra Nevada, where the remains of Flight 571 will be reconstructed. “I do it with Netflix because it is a project that is as complex as it is ambitious, and only they have respected all that and bet to preserve the original Spanish”, Bayona assures that he will feature, as is usual for him, the production of Belén Atienza, who has accompanied him throughout his career, and Sandra Hermida. The filmmaker, responsible for A monster comes to see me O Jurassic Word: Fallen Kingdom, and that the first two episodes of the series are pending release The Lord of the rings, count another bet of The Snow Society by verisimilitude: “We will shoot in chronological order so that the actors lose weight like their characters.”

One of the photographs taken by the survivors in the first days after the accident.
One of the photographs taken by the survivors in the first days after the accident.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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