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Isabel Coixet • Director

"Films are a collective experience, no matter what we say about the benefits of the online world"


- The popular Catalan director looks forward to her participation as Jury President of the In Movie Fest's inaugural edition

Isabel Coixet  • Director
(© Zoe Sala Coixet)

We had a pleasant phone conversation with Catalan director and screenwriter Isabel Coixet, who won three Goya awards in 2018 with The Bookshop [+see also:
film review
film profile
and who recently directed It Snows in Benidorm [+see also:
film review
interview: Isabel Coixet
film profile
. Coixet will preside over the Official Selection jury of In Movie Fest 2021, a new, large-scale international festival whose inaugural edition will unfold in Pescara, Termoli and Macerata between 24 August and 2 September this year.

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Cineuropa: You will head up the jury of In Movie Fest. What's your take on this role?
Isabel Coixet:
I've been attending many festivals. For me, I think it's a matter of respect for the work of all those involved in the making of a film. I always thought – when I've been in Berlin, at Camera d'Or or in other places – that the jury was there to remind people what kind of work and efforts are behind the making of a film. People tend to forget about this. Let's see it as a final product, they say. For me, it's always important to remind them that yes, we must see the final product, but we also need to dissect what kind of work is behind it and in what circumstances it has been made. It's something I'm always trying to remind other jurors, especially critics, writers and some other people. They don't realise it. I really, really love my job, and I'm happy in the editing room, during casting, while being on set... I always see what's behind a film as a final product. And sometimes making a film can be hard, you know... You see a film from Ukraine, for example, and you can imagine how difficult it can be to bring a camera on the streets. I think, as a jury, our mission is to consider all these elements affecting the production of a film.

What type of productions are still struggling to reach film festivals? What type of films would you like to see at In Movie Fest's inaugural edition?
All films are struggling right now. Films are even struggling to gain the attention of cinemagoers. We've been confined for months – yes, it's true, people watched stories on their screens – but there's a point where you see so many things that they start to be ineffective, even for people who really love movies. For this edition of In Movie Fest, my dream is to see films that have the capacity to amaze me, are able to ask good questions about what it is to be alive right now - even uncomfortable films, what people call “hard films,” with tragic, difficult subjects. I think it's necessary and I believe we will be seeing some of these very challenging titles at In Movie Fest. Right now in Spain, cinemas are open. What I always expect when I go see a film is to be amazed and surprised. I just don't want [to see] more of “the same,” because I'm tired of that. Especially now, where everyone – even those who are supposed to know what's going on in the world – are confused, I'd like to see films that pose the right questions.

How do you think a post-COVID festival world will look like?
Let's face it, it's gonna be hard. No matter what you say, an online festival is not a festival. I've been to many festivals and such an event has that type of vibe and collective spirit that will never be experienced within a digital festival environment. As a director, you need to see viewers reacting to your films, to that special score tuning into a particular scene. You wanna hear them laughing, crying, being in a certain emotional state. Films are a collective experience, no matter what we say about the benefits of the online world. Sure, it's a pragmatic solution, since we can't be physically together. It's a surrogate. It's not how it's supposed to be, though. When the staff of In Movie Fest asked me to preside the jury, I agreed, since the event was set to be a real festival.

What are your hopes about the fist edition of the festival?
Well, I know that in Italy cinemas have been closed for a while, so my hope is that this festival will be an opportunity to share films with a real audience, because that's how it's supposed to be! There'll be many guests, creatives, event two Nobel prize winners... It will be an opportunity to exchange interesting points of view about the world, about this confusion and what it is to be someone who really loves movies... And I hope it will be a first step towards some kind of normalcy.

Absolutely, like all of us. What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on a documentary focusing on a case of sexual abuse in a small Spanish town. I'm in contact with the victims and it has been a long-running project – we've been working on it for two years and I hope to complete it by the end of this year. It's entitled The Yellow Ceiling.

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