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Isabel Coixet, unadorned stories for a globalized world

Isabel Coixet, unadorned stories for a globalized world

Barcelona has always been a creative, avant-garde, ground-breaking city and is blessed with an abundance of artists in all manner of artistic disciplines who enrich citizens' lives with their vision of the world.

Much has been said during the pandemic about the transformative power of culture. And at a time when we all need inspiration, creativity, and leadership in our lives, there are many reasons to preserve it.

Sometimes, one simply needs to connect with an idea, a movement, or with someone who has the talent to bring out the feelings and emotions that may be contained within a cultural phenomenon.

And in this respect, Isabel Coixet has long shown that she has a special ability to create unadorned stories that address the current social paradigm and connect with people.

What happens in our city does not only have local roots: Barcelona has always been an avant-garde city, open to the world, and ready to embrace talent regardless of its origin—much like the film-maker herself.

The reality is that nothing will ever be the same after an era plagued by doubts, but change is possible if piloted by experts and talented artists who are able to make their mark on a complex and constantly changing international scene.

Furthermore, film, sometimes an oracle of unanticipated events, plays a crucial role in telling the story of an increasingly globalized world that tends to mutate with great ease and without prior warning.

And it is this chameleon-like character that is embodied in the films of Coixet, a filmmaker who is internationally recognized for her eclectic career and who has created countless memorable characters that are both feared and loved.

Many of her films are like dreams, which, in one way or another, we are all able to identify with. The ability to tell a story and to portray a particular time and place is within the reach of very few.

Isabel Coixet 2

National Cinematography Award

Coixet is one of the few filmmakers who are able to create with total freedom and she chooses her stories in terms of their versatility and opportunities for creativity, the foundations of her extensive filmography.

In the recently released It Snows in Benidorm, for example, which opened the last Seminci festival in Valladolid after being postponed several times due to Covid-19 restrictions, her characters are free and unpredictable; one never knows how they will evolve or what will happen to them next.

In fact, they all tend to move towards a recognition of unshakable values that no one and nothing can undermine: universal values such as respect, equality, and tolerance of difference, which are portrayed by the artist in a stunning aesthetic that doesn't balk at portraying reality as it is.

At the beginning of September last year, while the filmmaker from Barcelona was resting after editing her latest film, she was awarded the 2020 Spanish Cinematography Award.

The award, given by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, honored a long career in the seventh art, which includes more than twenty films, including "Things I Never Told You", "My Life Without Me", and The Bookshop, series like "Foodie Love" (HBO) and numerous documentaries, such as Invisibles and "Listening to the Judge"

According to the jury, Coixet has done much to demonstrate her talent and her loyalty to the industry: "Her support for a new generation of filmmakers and her commitment to equality and social causes makes her an inspiration and beacon in the industry."

Also, the author now has a total of seven Goyas in several of the main categories, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Documentary.

Isabel Coixet 3

Eclectic and socially influenced filmography

Coixet's filmography has a marked international flavor and many of her films feature world-famous actors, including Tim Robbins in "The Secret Life of Words"; Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson, in "Learning to Drive"; Sophie Turner and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, in Another me2; Juliette Binoche and Gabriel Byrne, in "Nobody Wants the Night" and Timothy Spall, in "It Snows in Benidorm".

She has also had the privilege of working with some outstanding Spanish actors, such as Penelope Cruz in "Elegy"; Javier Camara and Candela Peña in "Yesterday Never Ends" and Sergi López, in "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo".

Due to her deep cultural background and her enormous sensitivity to the social fabric of the country, she was the person chosen to direct the famous documentary "Spain in a Day" in 2016, based on the concept of the film "Life in a Day" directed by Kevin Macdonald and produced by Ridley Scott.

Through a collection of uncomplicated stories narrated and filmed by the people who appear in the film, the filmmaker brings to life the hopes and dreams of today's Spain at a time of major transformations and social and cultural change. 

Support for a safe culture as an essential good

Coixet's knowledge of the cultural environment and her iron commitment to disseminating culture prompted her to join the thirty or so European intellectuals in signing a manifesto in favor of culture during the Covid-19 crisis.

The letter, sponsored by the European Audiovisual Production Association (CEPI) and the Spanish State Film Association (AEC), added to the many calls from those in the sector to open theaters, museums, cinemas and concert halls safely.

Along with Joan Fontcuberta, Moritz Eggert, Jean-Michel Jarre, Milo Rau, and Agustín Almodóvar, among others, the filmmaker stressed the value of culture as a sanctuary for emotions common to us all. According to Coixet, "watching a film in a theater is very different from watching it on a computer. Even professionals like us who are theoretically accustomed to viewing films on a small screen feel that going to the cinema is different."

At the latest Goya Awards, during which Coixet was finally able to put on her pajamas and follow the ceremony from the sofa at home, she pointed out that "we are still here, somewhat bloodied, but still alive, eager to take risks, and to get back to work. There will be movies for some time still to come."

And she will continue to face current challenges, both in the industry and in society, with a language that is authentic, magical, and speaks to all; she is an artist well ahead of her time.

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