- Díaz Yanes, Agustín
- (1950- )Díaz Yanes' family background is relevant to some aspects and thematic strands of his filmmaking. His father was a bullfighter; his mother had been a teacher and a feminist in the 1930s, who kept a library of books forbidden by the Franco regime and instilled in her son a taste for reading. Their presences are keenly felt in his most personal film, Nadie hablará de nosotras cuando hayamos muerto (No One Will Talk About Us When We Die, 1995). They were both staunch Republicans who found Francoism stifling, and prepared their children for a better life beyond the narrow limits of the Francoist education system. Agustín, the middle son, was sent to a British school and then was awarded by the government a grant for higher education in the United States. He became a specialist on the Spanish Civil War.On his return to Spain he wrote some scripts that were made into interesting films: Barrios altos (Wealthy Suburbs, José Luis Berlanga, 1987), Baton Rouge (Rafael Monleón, 1988), and Demasiado corazón (Too Much Heart, Eduardo Campoy, 1992). In all of them, his interest in noir-inflected plots is prominent, as well as his skill in delineating characters for strong women (Victoria Abril starred in Demasiado corazón). For years, he had been developing the project that would become Nadie hablará de nosotras . . ., a script about an illiterate prostitute adopted by an ex-Republican school teacher (a character inspired by his mother). He sought funding and ended up directing it himself. Nadie hablará de nosotras cuando hayamos muerto was a critical and box-office hit, and was awarded eight Goyas, including best new director. Critics admired the personal perspective, the raw intensity of the performances in a cast headed by Abril and Pilar Bardem, and its subtle engagement with historical and social issues.His next project was to shoot a script inspired by the experiences of women during the Civil War, but two similarly themed films (Vicente Aranda's Libertarias [ Freedom Fighters, 1996 ] and Ken Loach's Land and Freedom [ 1995 ]) had just been released, and he could not find a producer. Finally, he found support for the more whimsical Sin noticias de Dios (No News From God, 2001), a fantasy fable starring Abril and Penélope Cruz about angels who mingle with the living. In spite of not earning the same critical respect as his previous directing effort, the film retained an original outlook, sharp visual and verbal wit, and evidenced his great skill in handling performers (a large international cast including Fanny Ardant, Gael García Bernal, and Gemma Jones among others).Díaz Yanes' next project was, again, a shift of trajectory: he was chosen to put on screen a series of hugely successful historical novels revolving around the figure of 17th-century adventurer Alatriste. This was the most expensive production in Spanish cinema to date, and yet Díaz Yanes' vision remains true. The exquisite detail of the costumes and art direction, the spectacular effect of the battle scenes and the cast, including Viggo Mortensen as the protagonist, guaranteed the film's success.Sólo quiero caminar (I Only Want to Keep on Walking, 2008), starring Ariadna Gil, Victoria Abril, Pilar López de Ayala, and Diego Luna, was a return to contemporary drama and also to some of the themes and characters of Nadie hablará de nosotras . . . . Again, the director's compassion for strong women, involved now in an operation to rob Mexican drug traffickers, shines through: below the action-thriller surface beats an intensely emotional story of survivors and solidarity conveyed through Gil's sad gaze.
Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.