‘Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed’ Gets a Little Help From the Beatles

Spanish helmer Fernando Trueba took home the 1993 foreign-language film Oscar for his period dramedy “Belle Epoque.” More than two decades later, his younger brother, David, is hoping to bring a second Oscar into the family with his Beatles-themed road movie “Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed.”

Trueba, the youngest of eight siblings, is no rookie at the foreign-lingo film Oscar game. His 2003 drama “Soldiers of Salamina” repped Spain in the category, but didn’t get nominated.

He might have a better chance this time. “Living Is Easy” is tipped to be among the 15 favorites out of the record 83 entries in the Academy’s foreign-language film race. Outsider Pictures released it in the U.S. in the summer. North American box office gross is $175,000 to date.

“Living Is Easy” opened the 20th Recent Spanish Cinema festival on Oct. 16 at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theater, which also showcased Spanish blockbuster “Spanish Affair” (Ocho apellidos vascos), Paco Leon’s family comedy “Carmina & Amen” and Alex de la Iglesia’s horror-comedy “Witching and Bitching,” among others.

“Living Is Easy” made a sweep of the Goyas, Spain’s top film awards, with six major honors, including best picture, director, screenplay and actor (Javier Camara). “It came as a complete surprise as I had the dubious honor of having amassed the most number of Goya nominations ever,” Trueba says.

“Living Is Easy” won its first award at January’s Palm Springs Intl. Film Festival where it took home the Cine Latino Award. “I’m hoping to pick up another one a few hundred miles from there,” says Trueba.

Based on real events, “Living Is Easy” tracks a small-town teacher in 1960s Spain who used the lyrics of Beatles songs to teach English to his students. When he heard that John Lennon, who had been cast in Richard Lester’s  “How I Won the War,” was on location in the southeastern Spanish town of Almeria, he went on a quest to meet Lennon and clear up some doubts he had about some lyrics.

Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed” is one of the first lines of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” which Lennon composed while in Spain. The rest of the story is inspired by events in Trueba’s life wherein the teacher, played by a brilliant Camara, picks up two young runaways en route, a male teen running away from an authoritarian father and a pregnant girl escaping judgment.

Trueba uses their stories to reflect on the state of a highly conservative Spanish society under General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, which lasted from 1939 to 1975.

Trueba is next heading underground, literally, to work on a documentary about the prehistoric cave of Atapuerca which another brother, Javier, has been working on for the past 30 years. Trueba’s fourth novel, “Blitz,” is out early next year.

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