García Sánchez, José Luis

García Sánchez, José Luis
(1941- )
   García Sanchez's indistinctive style as a filmmaker is amply compensated for by solidity of his projects and the originality of his scripts, deeply rooted in Spanish traditions from costumbrismo to a buñuelesque sense of absurdity. After studying at the Escuela Oficial de Cine, he started in the film industry as assistant director in such projects as Basilio Martín Patino's Nueve cartas a Berta (Nine Letters to Berta, 1966). Then he wrote scripts for other people's projects, including Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón's Habla Mudita (Speak, Little Mute Girl, 1973) and Francisco Betriú's Corazón Solitario (Lonely Heart, 1973). At that time, he was already directing a number of shorts. In the early 1970s, he participated in a collective project for a series of documentary shorts including Canta José Menese (José Menese Sings) and Loco por Machín (Crazy for Machín), both in 1971, and in that year helped Martín Patino with the script of Canciones para después de una guerra and Queridísimos verdugos (Dearest Executioners), before tackling his first feature as director, the comedy El love feroz (Big Bad Love, 1973).
   García Sánchez belongs to the last generation of filmmakers who started their career under the Franco regime, and the influence of late Francoist style is apparent in Las truchas (The Trouts, 1978), co-scripted with Rafael Azcona and the best reviewed film of his first period. He contributed to a portmanteau children's film Cuentos para una escapada (Tales for an Escapade, 1981) and to the documentary Dolores (1981), on Dolores Ibárruri "La pasionaria," one of the key figures in the anti-Franco struggle.
   García Sanchez's second period as director and writer (most often in collaboration with Rafael Azcona) started in 1985 with La corte del faraón (Pharaoh's Court, 1985), a zarzuela musical with a star-studded cast which included Fernando Fernán Gómez, Ana Belén, and Antonio Banderas. Many films of this period are substantial literary adaptations with prestigious casts and high production values. Among these, Divinas palabras (Divine Words, 1987), Tirano banderas (Banderas, The Tyrant, 1993), and Tranvía a la Malvarrosa (Trolley to Malvarrosa, 1997) are of particular interest. His most personal project in the second part of his career was the diptych Suspiros de España (y Portugal) (Sighs From Spain [ and Portugal ], 1995), and its sequel Siempre hay un camino a la derecha (There Is Always a Path to the Right, 1997), a generational reflection on the changes in Spain since 1975, which was linked to the picaresque tradition. He also contributed to the scripts of Belle epoque (Fernando Trueba, 1992), Cómo ser infeliz y disfrutarlo (How to Be Unhappy Enjoying It, Enrique Urbizu, 1994), and El rey del río (King of the River, Jaime Chávarri, 1995). More recently, he has directed an enjoyable adapatation of Golden Age novel Lázaro de Tormes (2001) and the biopic María Querida (Dear María, 2004) on philosopher María Zambrano, a pet project starring Pilar Bardem.

Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. . 2010.

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