Rising Spanish director debuts "Orphanage" in U.S.

Wed Dec 26, 2007 3:20pm EST
 
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By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As a movie-obsessed teenager, Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona snuck into a film festival masquerading as a journalist to catch the eye of award-winning Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro.

Fast forward 15 years and Bayona's early panache has paid off handsomely in "The Orphanage," a supernatural thriller produced by Del Toro fresh off his 2006 hit "Pan's Labyrinth," which earned three Oscars and was Mexico's nominee for best foreign language film.

"Guillermo thought I was a 10-year-old with sideburns," said Bayona of his first meeting with del Toro. "We kept in touch (and) he loved my work in music videos and short films."

"The Orphanage," Bayona's first feature-length movie, is Spain's entry for 2007's foreign language Oscar. It debuts in major U.S. cities on Friday and across the country in coming weeks.

At home, the film broke the box office record for a Spanish-language movie, grossing $35 million. It received 14 Goya nominations, Spain's equivalent of the Oscars, and Bayona has been branded a young phenomenon by industry watchers.

Del Toro said Bayona, now 32, impressed him over the years with his enthusiasm for learning the ins-and-outs of filmmaking and for his talent behind the camera.

"It was wonderful to meet someone so young who dominated technical aspects and storytelling," Del Toro told Reuters.

HORROR WITH TEARS   Continued...

 
<p>Spanish actress Belen Rueda (L) and film director Juan Antonio Bayona pose during a photocall to promote their latest film "El Orfanato" ("The Orphanage") in Madrid in this October 9, 2007 file photo. The film is Bayona's first feature-length movie after years of making short films and music videos, and is Spain's entry for 2007's foreign language Oscar. It debuts in major U.S. cities on Friday and across the country in coming weeks. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/Files</p>