|Born||Isabel Coixet Castillo
9 April 1960
|Alma mater||University of Barcelona|
|Known for||My Life Without Me
The Secret Life of Words
Isabel Coixet Castillo (Catalan pronunciation: [izəˈβɛɫ kuˈʃɛt]; born 9 April 1960) is a Spanish film director. She is one of the most prolific film directors of contemporary Spain, having directed twelve feature-length films since the beginning of her film career in 1988, in addition to documentary films, shorts and commercials. Her films follow a departure from traditional national cinema of Spain, and help to “untangle films from their national context, ... clearing the path for thinking about national film from different perspectives.” The recurring themes of “emotions, feelings and existential conflict” coupled with her distinct visual style secure the “multifaceted (she directs, writes, produces and acts)” filmmaker's status as a “catalan auteur”.
Isabel Coixet started filming when she was given a 8mm camera on the occasion of her First Communion. After a BA degree in History at Barcelona University, Major in Eighteen and Nineteen centuries, she worked in advertising and spot writing. She won several accolades for her spots, and finally founded her own production company in 2000, Miss Wasabi Films. En 1988, Coixet made her debut as a scriptwriter and helmer in Demasiado Viejo Para Morir Joven. For this movie, she was nominated at the Goya Awards as a Best New Director.
In 1996, she made her first feature in English: Things I Never Told You (Cosas que nunca te dije). In this moving drama, the cast was made up of American actors led by Lili Taylor and Andrew McCarthy. Coixet achieved her second nomination at the Goya Awards for Best Original Screenplay. Then, in 1988, in association with a French production company, Coixet came back to a script in Spanish to direct the historical adventure A los que aman.
International success took place with the intimate drama My life without me (Mi vida sin mi, 2003), based on Nancy Kincaid’s short story, where Sarah Polley plays Ann, a young mother who decides to hide to her family she has a terminal cancer. This Spanish/Canadian coproduction was strongly praised at the Berlin International Film Festival. Coixet kept on working with Polley in a new movie: The Secret Life of Words (La Vida Secreta de las Palabras, 2005), where Tim Robbins and Javier Cámara were costars. This movie was the recipient of four Goya Awards: Best Film, Best Director, Best Production and Best Screenplay.
In 2005, Coixet joined other eighteen great international filmmakers, among them standing out Gus Van Sant, Walter Salles and Joel and Ethan Cohen, to make the groundbreaking collective project Paris, je t’aime, where each helmer explored a different Paris quarter. Coixet accomplished prominent documentaries of great concern as Invisibles, selected by 2007 Berlin Film Festival Panorama section, about Doctors Without Borders; and Viaje al corazón de la tortura, which was shot at Sarajevo during the Balkan Wars. It was awarded at October 2003 Human Rights Film Festival.
In 2008, Elegy was released. It was shot at Vancouver, and produced by Lakeshore Entertainment, based on Philip Roth’s novel The Dying Animal, the screenplay by Nicholas Meyer, and starred by Penélope Cruz and Ben Kingsley. Elegy was introduced at the 58th Berlin International Film Festival. In 2009, Map of the sounds of Tokio (Mapa de los sonidos de Tokio) was released at the Cannes International Film Festival, being part of the Official Selection. It was shot in Japan and Barcelona, and starred by Rinko Kikuchi, Sergi López and Min Tanaka; the script was written by Coixet herself. That same year, she inaugurates From I to J at the Santa Mònica Art Center, a John Berger’s work installation/homage that was the recipient of the Fine Arts Golden Medal. Also, she became member of the jury at the 59th Berlinale.
In 2010, she took on the content in one of the three Spanish Pavilion lounges for the Expo Shangai China. In addition, she inaugurated the exhibition “Aral. El mar perdido,” where it was shown an homonymous documentary shoot in Uzbekistan in 2009. In 2011, Coixet released Escuchando al Juez Garzón at the Berlinale Specials, a section of the Berlin International Film Festival. The magistrate talks by means of an interview with writer Manuel Rivas. The film earned the Goya Award for Best Documentary.
In 2012, she shot and produced her new project, Ayer no termina nunca (Yesterday Never Ends) which was premiered in the Panorama Section of the 63rd edition of the International Film Festival of Berlin, as well as opening the Málaga Film Festival the same year. That same year she shoots Another Me, an English production written and directed by her and with Sophie Turner, Rhys Iphans and Johnatan Rhys Meyers in the cast.
In 2013 she started shooting Learning to Drive in New York City, starred by Sir Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson. It was premiered in Toronto International Film Festival and won the Grolsch People's Choice Award.
Her next project was Nobody Wants the Night, shot between Norway, Bulgary and Spain. It starred Juliette Binoche, Rinko Kikuchi and Gabriel Byrne. The film opened the 66th Edition of Berlin International Film Festival.
Coixet's work as a director is striking for being, as The New York Times describes her, “unclassifiable.” Depending on the film, she shoots in English or Spanish, and subjects are diverse. Coixet’s trademark is her filmmaking technique, which was derived from her background in advertising, where visuals, color, and composition are carefully constructed. She works as the camera operator on all of her films.
- 2017 The Bookshop
- 2016 Spain in a Day
- 2015 Nobody Wants the Night (Nadie quiere la noche)
- 2015 Talking about Rose, a documentary film about the life of Rose Lokissim
- 2014 Learning to Drive
- 2013 Another Me (Panda Eyes)
- 2013 Yesterday Never Ends (Ayer no termina nunca)
- 2012 White Tide (Marea Blanca)
- 2011 Listening to Judge Garzón (Escuchando al Juez Garzón)
- 2010 Aral. The Lost Sea (Aral. El mar perdido)
- 2009 Map of the Sounds of Tokyo (Mapa de los sonidos de Tokio)
- 2008 Elegy
- 2007 Invisibles: A letter to Nora (Invisibles: Cartas a Nora)
- 2006 París je t’aime: Bastille
- 2005 The Secret Life of Words (La vida secreta de las palabras)
- 2004 Hay motivo!: La insoportable levedad del carrito de la compra
- 2003 My Life Without Me (Mi vida sin mí)
- 1998 A los que aman
- 1996 Things I Never Told You (Cosas que nunca te dije)
- 1989 Demasiado viejo para morir joven
- 1984 Mira y verás
- “Best Production Supervision” at the 2005 Goya Awards for The Secret Life of Words.
- “Best Original Screenplay” at the 2005 Goya Awards for The Secret Life of Words.
- “Best Director” at the 2005 Goya Awards for The Secret Life of Words.
- “Best Film” at the 2005 Goya Awards for The Secret Life of Words.
- “Best Adapted Screenplay” at the 2003 Goya Awards for My Life Without Me.
- Pavlovic, Tatjana (2009). 100 Years of Spanish Cinema. Wiley-Blackwell Publishing. pp. 181–225. ISBN 978-1-4051-8420-5.
- Smith, Paul Julian (January 2004). "Waiting for Pedro". Sight and Sound. 14 (1): 9–9.
- Minder, Raphael (28 September 2011). "Isabel Coixet, an 'Unclassifiable' Director". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 February 2015.