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Isabel Coixet • Director of Foodie Love

"I can recognise myself in this series"


- Cineuropa met up with director Isabel Coixet, who is presenting her series Foodie Love at Brussels’ Are You Series? festival

Isabel Coixet • Director of Foodie Love
(© Simon Verjus)

Cineuropa chatted to director Isabel Coixet, who is presenting her series Foodie Love (read the review) at Brussels’ Are You Series? festival.

Cineuropa: First off, what kind of food do you like?
Isabel Coixet:
My tastes are completely eclectic. I love three-star restaurants, but I also enjoy discovering places where they do, I don’t know, amazing anchovies or incredible mussels. Honestly, I like everything.

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You directed and produced the series Foodie Love, which was funded by HBO. What was the creative process behind the project like?
I’m not someone who gets hooked on series or who’s a series fanatic. They had already approached me with propositions to do things for series, like some episodes of Narcos, and I’d always said no. The idea of having a director who is only hired so that they’ll serve a certain purpose on a project that’s already established didn’t appeal to me at all. I’m not interested in making something for the sake of it, just to make money. What I enjoy doing is creating things, starting from scratch. When I began to think about Foodie Love, I imagined it as a series, rather than a feature. It’s very personal; it’s an arthouse series. If you like the same things as I do, you’ll like it; if not, you’ll probably hate it. I saw an opportunity in the series’ structure to tell a fragmented story about a couple of adults who behave like teenagers, but who also behave maturely, all mashed together like some kind of “brain fart”. And then it’s all blended with my passion, which is food.

Was it you who suggested the series to HBO?
Yes, and it was a very quick process. I was a bit scared to begin with because the streaming platforms have their own particular codes. All of my fears melted away, though, because the process was really fun and creative. The people on the creative side at HBO, especially Steve Matthews, showed me a great deal of respect, and they understood that it was a personal work. There’s a bunch of literary and film references in the series that could easily seem highbrow, but what lies beneath it is a very powerful love story.

On a more personal note, have you been in relationships like the one you portray in the series?
Absolutely. There are things the two characters say that I’ve said myself. There are a lot of expressions and emotions that I’ve been through personally. Directors are omnivores to a certain extent, like pigs. We just soak everything up. One thing that has always given me solace after each disappointment in my love life is that I tell myself, "I’ll use this one day." And I have indeed used everything I’ve experienced.

Did you leave any room for improvisation?
Yes, quite a bit. I’ll admit that, some days, I would arrive on set and suddenly change the shooting schedule completely. When you are filming for several months at a time, it’s important to break the routine. But for the dialogue, everything was written down. I’m an expert in writing dialogue to make it seem like it’s improvised.

How did you choose the actors?
I always had Laia Costa in mind, as she’s a terrific actress. The first time I saw her was in Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria [+see also:
film review
interview: Sebastian Schipper
film profile
, which was filmed in Berlin in one sequence shot and with improvised dialogue. I thought that if she was able to do Victoria, she was capable of anything. In addition, she loves food, and she eats a lot! Guillermo Pfening worked on the movie Nobody’s Watching [+see also:
film review
film profile
by Argentinian director Julia Solomonoff, which I’d co-produced. Guillermo has this air of vulnerability about him. There aren’t many thirty-something men out there who can play the vulnerable type so powerfully.

Are you thinking of doing any more series?
I’d like the series to be continued in due time. Next year, I’m going to direct two features, but I feel a lot of affection for Foodie Love and I hope to be able to continue it with a second season.

Lots of critics are saying that Foodie Love is 100% Isabel Coixet. Can you see yourself in it?
Yes, I can even recognise myself in things I’d prefer not to recognise myself in [laughs]!

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(Translated from Spanish)

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