The filmmaker reviews her career and the changes that the industry has experienced on the occasion of the lifetime achievement award she receives at the European Film Awards
- Criticism One love: Isabel Coixet, Hovik Keuchkerian, Laia Costa and the fine art of discomfort (****)
- Interview Isabel Coixet: “There are words that drive me crazy. I hear the word empower and I get hives”
It is never clear whether a career award (whatever that may be) is the opening of a will or the celebration of an inheritance. Probably neither of those things. Or both at the same time. I never look back. It would depress me a lot. “I prefer to think that I am still seven years old, although at the same time I know that I am not,” he says. Isabel Coixet (Barcelona, 1960) at the same time completely happy and slightly overwhelmed by a prize that receives the cheeky name of European Achievement in World Cinema Award (something like an award for European achievement in world cinema). In any case, reality puts you in your place because, despite everything, you still have the same financing problems as always to carry out your projects, he continues and, immediately afterwards, so that it does not seem like a pose, he reasons: At first You have problems because you are new and now you have them because your experience makes some producers wary. There are those who feel threatened if you show that you know more than them. It is clear.
Either way, the prize is yours. Already. Without surprises and without competing with anyone. That’s reassuring, she says. Initially, the idea was for him to receive the honor in the company of his admired Vanessa Redgrave, designated as the honorary protagonist of the evening that hosts the 36th edition of the European Film Awards in the Arena hall in Berlin. It could not be. The coincidence of one and the other had its particular and even hidden meaning. Coixet likes to remember that the first time the cinema impressed her to the point of literally leaving her speechless was during a screening that was theoretically contraindicated for her age at that time (she was only a child, perhaps the seven-year-old girl of before Isadora, by Karel Reisz. I didn’t understand anything. But I saw how the protagonist burned her parents’ wedding certificate. And he had countless lovers. And it was Vanessa Redgrave, he remembers. It could not be due to health problems of the actress. But the memory remains there forever, perhaps next to the unmistakable flavor of the Darlins candies that were sold at the Texas cinema on Bailn Street in Barcelona where her grandmother was a box office worker. Time has these things.
But let’s not get lost. Coixet arrived at a cinema without quotas and without more references of women in direction than… In truth, I paid more attention to the people who started with me than anyone else. I think of Cdric Klapisch, in France, or the American Hal Hartley. Of women directors, my only reference then, when I was taking my first steps, and much later, when I met her as a jury member at Cannes, was and still is Agns Varda, he says, takes a second and continues: From her I learned, above all, practical things. I remember her telling me that she would take care of me from owning my negatives. I didn’t do it and I regret it.
And what does Coixet feel as a reference (things of time too) for many of the directors who today are responsible for the change that Spanish cinema is experiencing. It seems fine to me, but the important thing is not to recreate and stay active, she says. At the end of the 80s, when she made her debut with Too Old to Die Young, no one paid attention to gender parities or percentages. When I started, she says, being a woman and being young were definitely a challenge. handicap. Now it’s an advantage. At least to a certain level. It’s still a problem if what you aspire to is to make a big-budget film that isn’t even Wonder Woman neither Barbie, but for the rest it is undoubtedly an advantage. What if I would have liked to start now and not when I did? Yes, without a doubt, I would have suffered much less, but you get the time you get. There is no other nor is there any point in regretting, concludes.
Be that as it may, regrets aside, Isabel Coixet can now boast of her European contribution to world cinema. Those. Attest to this, in addition to the current award, four participations in the Berlin Festival with My life without me, Elegy, Nobody wants the night and Elisa and Marcela; one in Cannes with Map of the sounds of Tokyoand another one in Venice with the secret Life of the words … That and up to eight Goya Awards from a total of 16 feature films. The first time I visited a filming, with Pilar Mir, I was impressed by how much people shouted there. Everything was imperative orders. I saw clearly that I couldn’t be that. I’m not like that. And so on until I discovered that the important thing is to find your own method, your way of doing things, she says. And what is that system? I believe in everyone’s contributions. It doesn’t work for me to scare actors. nor do I think it is necessary to do 79 takes. I am not afraid of the team’s contributions or of going against what I was very clear about. What is the worst that can happen to you? What do you have to rectify? Isabel starts, she says, now. Just turned seven years old.