Director J. A. Bayona’s Netflix survival thriller film Society of the Snow is about the historic 1972 Andes flight disaster. Having premiered in September 2023, the film is an excellent retelling of the infamous incident and fans couldn’t get enough of its cinematography. It also received critical acclaim, with several critics calling it Bayona’s best work. The movie is now streaming on Netflix and fans around the globe are in awe of the awesome editing, screenplay, and masterful special effects showcased in the movie. Since it is based on a true-life disaster, the location in which the movie was filmed has become a great source of curiosity for the audience. Everyone seemed to ask about the filming locations of Society of the Snow, and lucky for us, the director came up with answers in interviews.

What is the movie about?

Society of the Snow is an adaptation of the 1972 Andes flight disaster. The disaster involved the crashing of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 in the Andes mountains on October 13, 1972. The movie retells the story of the passengers who survived for 72 days in the mountains amidst the hardships of exposure, starvation, and several avalanches. 

The movie shows the struggle for survival of 16 passengers while 13 more passengers died before them. The movie is directed by J. A. Bayona and released in Spanish, with cast mainly newcomers from Uruguay and Argentina.

Netflix’s ‘Society of the Snow’: Where was the film shot? – Filming Locations & Other Details

Witnessing an awesome work of editing and screenplay on the screen, fans were curious to know about the filming locations of the movie. The adaptation of the real-life disaster must have asked for a shoot in a somewhat similar rugged environment. The directing team was asked this question several times and surely, they answered the question. 

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Director Bayona himself shared his experience in an interview with Netflix and mentioned how he wanted “to direct this story as it was meant to be — in its original language, in the places where it happened…” However, filming the movie in the real location was quite out of the question. Therefore, the team resolved the issue by filing several scenes of the movie in different locations trying to stick to the authenticity of it all. The infamous crash incident was filmed in a certain location while scenes involving crash victims’ families were filmed in Montevideo and Uruguay.

Sierra Nevada, Spain: The Crash Incident

Considering the real location of the crash and its harsh conditions, it was naturally impossible to shoot scenes in the Andes mountains; more precisely the real Valle de las Lágrimas (Valley of Tears). However, trying to maintain the authenticity as much as possible, Bayona chose the Sierra Nevada mountains in Grenada, Spain to be the stand-in for the crash site. It may not seem close to the real conditions but with excellent direction and good teamwork, the movie pulled some thrilling scenes out of whatever was accessible.

Montevideo, Uruguay: Family Scenes

While the majority of the film unfolds in the Andean slopes, Montevideo in Uruguay, played a vital role in portraying scenes involving the crash victims’ families. Director Bayona’s commitment to authenticity led to the choice of Montevideo, lending a genuine air to these crucial moments in the narrative. The decision to use a real city instead of a studio-backed set further emphasizes the film’s dedication to portraying the true events with utmost fidelity.

Andes Mountains, Argentina and Chile: Aerial Footage

Despite the challenges posed by the real Andes’s remote location, Bayona’s team recognized its importance in maintaining authenticity. The second unit, led by Alejandro Fadel, ventured to the Andes mountains in Chile and Argentina. Here, they captured amazing aerial footage in August 2021, showcasing the vast wilderness and documenting the actual crash site. This footage was seamlessly integrated into the Spanish set, projecting the real Andes onto giant screens, immersing the actors and crew in an authentic visual experience.

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