Isabel Coixet

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Isabel Coixet
Isabel Coixet - La Librería (cropped).jpg
Born Isabel Coixet Castillo
(1960-04-09) 9 April 1960 (age 58)
Barcelona, Spain
Nationality Spanish
Alma mater University of Barcelona
Occupation Film director
Years active 1989–present
Known for My Life Without Me
The Secret Life of Words

Isabel Coixet Castillo (Catalan pronunciation: [izəˈβɛl 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.”[1] 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”.[1][2]


Isabel Coixet started filming when she was given a 8mm camera on the occasion of her First Communion. After obtaining a BA degree in History at Barcelona University, where she majored in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century History, she worked in advertising and spot writing. She won several accolades for her spots.

In 1988, Coixet made her debut as a scriptwriter and director in Demasiado Viejo Para Morir Joven ("Too Old to Die Young"). 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 received her second nomination at the Goya Awards for Best Original Screenplay. 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.

In 2000, she founded her own production company Miss Wasabi Films.

The 2003 drama My life without me (Mi vida sin mi, 2003), based on Nancy Kincaid’s short story won her international success. In the film Sarah Polley plays Ann, a young mother who decides to hide her terminal cancer from her family. This Spanish/Canadian coproduction was praised at the Berlin International Film Festival. Coixet continued to work with Polley in a new movie: The Secret Life of Words (La Vida Secreta de las Palabras, 2005), with Tim Robbins and Javier Cámara as costars. This movie was the recipient of four Goya Awards: Best Film, Best Director, Best Production and Best Screenplay.

In 2005, Coixet joined eighteen other international filmmakers, among them Gus Van Sant, Walter Salles and Joel and Ethan Cohen, to make the groundbreaking collective project "Paris, je t’aime",in which each director explored a different Paris quarter. Coixet also made documentaries centered on issues of humanitarian concern such as Viaje al corazón de la tortura, which was shot in Sarajevo during the Balkan Wars and awarded a top prize at the October 2003 Human Rights Film Festival, or Invisibles, about Doctors Without Borders selected by the 2007 Berlin Film Festival Panorama section.

In 2008 Coixet released Elegy, which was filmed in Vancouver and produced by Lakeshore Entertainment. Based on Philip Roth’s novel The Dying Animal, the screenplay was written by Nicholas Meyer. It starred Penélope Cruz and Ben Kingsley. Elegy was introduced at the 58th Berlin International Film Festival. In 2009, Coixet's' 'Map of the sounds of Tokio (Mapa de los sonidos de Tokio) was released at the Cannes International Film Festival as part of the Official Selection. It was shot in Japan and Barcelona, and starred Rinko Kikuchi, Sergi López and Min Tanaka; the script was written by Coixet herself. In same year, she inaugurated From I to J at the Santa Mònica Art Center, an installation based on and an homage to John Berger, for which she received the Fine Arts Golden Medal. Also, Coixet was named a 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 an homonymous documentary about Uzbekistan in 2009 was shown. In 2011, Coixet released "Escuchando al Juez Garzón"("Listening to Judge Garzón") at the Berlinale Specials, a section of the Berlin International Film Festival. In the documentary, Judge Garzón is interviewed at length by writer Manuel Rivas. The film earned the Goya Award for Best Documentary.

In 2012, Coixet shot and produced her new project, Ayer no termina nunca (Yesterday Never Ends) which 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. In 2012 she also shot Another Me, an English production written and directed by Coixet with a cast that featured Sophie Turner, Rhys Iphans and Johnatan Rhys Meyers.

In 2013 she started shooting Learning to Drive in New York City, starring Sir Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the Grolsch People's Choice Award.

Her next project was Nobody Wants the Night, shot between Norway, Bulgaria and Spain. It starred Juliette Binoche, Rinko Kikuchi and Gabriel Byrne. The film opened the 66th Edition of the Berlin International Film Festival.

She is now[when?] working on an adaptation of The Bookshop, a novel by Penelope Fitzgerald.

Artistic vision

Coixet's work as a director is striking for being, as The New York Times describes her, “unclassifiable.”[3] 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.[3] She works as the camera operator on all of her films.

Personal life

Political Views

Coixet spoke out against the 2017 independence referendum in her native Catalonia, seeing it as "unnecessary and divisive".[4]



Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2003 Goya Award for Best Adapted Screenplay My Life Without Me Won
2005 Best Production Supervision The Secret Life of Words. Won
Goya Award for Best Original Screenplay Won
Goya Award for Best Director Won
Goya Award for Best Film Won
2017 Goya Award for Best Director The Bookshop Won [5][6]
Best Adapted Sreenplay Won [7][8]


  1. ^ a b Pavlovic, Tatjana (2009). 100 Years of Spanish Cinema. Wiley-Blackwell Publishing. pp. 181–225. ISBN 978-1-4051-8420-5.
  2. ^ Smith, Paul Julian (January 2004). "Waiting for Pedro". Sight and Sound. 14 (1): 9–9.
  3. ^ a b Minder, Raphael (28 September 2011). "Isabel Coixet, an 'Unclassifiable' Director". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  4. ^ ‘I’m no fascist’: film-maker hits back over opposition to Catalan independence, The Guardian (23 July 2017)
  5. ^ Ruiz Gómez, Lara (February 4, 2018). "Isabel Coixet se corona como mejor directora en los Goya de las mujeres". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  6. ^ "Isabel Coixet, Goya a la mejor dirección por "La librería"". Radiotelevisión Española (in Spanish). February 4, 2018. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  7. ^ "'La librería' de Isabel Coixet. Goya 2018 a Mejor guión adaptado". Radiotelevisión Española (in Spanish). February 4, 2018. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  8. ^ "Isabel Coixet gana el Goya al mejor guion adaptado por 'La librería'". El Economista (in Spanish). EcoDiario. February 3, 2018. Retrieved February 5, 2018.

External links

  • Isabel Coixet on IMDb
  • Miss Wasabi Films
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