Isabel Coixet: «Books saved my life»

10/21/2017 .- Today director Isabel Coixet opened the Official Section of Seminci’s 62nd edition with a feature film starring Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy and Patricia Clarkson, which tells “the little dream of a woman who wants to put a bookstore in a place where there is no bookstore.” “A middle-aged woman with no galactic shield” is at the forefront of a movie where “there are no heroines or heroes.” The Bookshop, a co-production between Spain, the UK, and Germany, is an adaptation of the novel by the same name, written by Penelope Fitzgerald. As soon as she read the book, Coixet was sure it was a story she needed to tell.

The director herself admitted at the press conference that she identifies with the film’s protagonist, Florence Green, who wants to do something and “does not consider the consequences” that may stem from her efforts, which in this case is to open a bookstore. “Books save me. I have absolutely none of Joan of Arc or a heroine in me; books have saved my life. They are a path of knowledge as well as of self-knowledge. They have allowed me to live a thousand lives that I otherwise would not have lived, to develop empathy, and to put myself in the shoes of others,” explained Isabel Coixet.

Coixet and Nighy with the film’s producers Jaime Banacolocha, Adolfo Blanco, and Albert Sagalés

The director was accompanied at the press conference by one of the film’s stars, British actor Bill Nighy, who ensured that his role in the film is “some of the best acting” he has done. In addition to recognizing the “admiration and friendship” he shares with Emily Mortimer, the performer declared himself to be a fan of Penelope Fitzgerald‘s literature, and even confessed to being a “bookstore addict.” When the script came to him, he added, he was impressed: “I thought it was a very brilliant adaptation.” Nighy joked that “three bottles of olive oil” and a F.C. Barcelona jersey with his own name, given to him by Isabel Coixet, made up his mind.

The actor praised the Catalan director’s way of working: “It made me feel free and secure. It creates a special relationship with the performers, a more intimate relationship with a lot of respect, which is something you cannot fake.”

Isabel Coixet, who previously worked with Patricia Clarkson on Elegy and Learning to Drive, as well as The Bookstore, has since offered to work again with Bill Nighy. With actors like them, she confessed, she’s had to learn to “not direct”: “With people so intelligent and capable … what do you have to say …? Every time I say less and less.”

Coixet and Nighy were accompanied at the press conference by the film’s producers Jaime Banacolocha, Adolfo Blanco, and Albert Sagalés, who declared they were “happy” to be in Valladolid for “the world premiere” of The Bookshop. Coixet, who recognized her “intense relationship” with the festivals, was also delighted to be at Seminci, especially in an edition with an evident female presence in the Official Section. “Javier (Angulo) and his team’s gamble is admirable. I do not think all women are geniuses, but we also have the right to be mediocre. I do not know if the world will be better with men and women on equal footing, but I am sure that it will not be worse, and, at the very least, it will be more just.”

Posted in 62nd Seminci.