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SEMINCI 2020

Isabel Coixet • Director of It Snows in Benidorm

"It’s never too late to get passionate about things"

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- Isabel Coixet opened the Seminci in Valladolid with It Snows in Benidorm, her latest film, produced by the Almodóvar brothers, which unfolds in the titular tourist hotspot on the east coast of Spain

Isabel Coixet • Director of It Snows in Benidorm
(© Zoe Sala Coixet/El Deseo)

Just prior to the advent of the accursed pandemic, unstoppable Barcelona-born filmmaker Isabel Coixet shot It Snows in Benidorm [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Isabel Coixet
film profile
]
in the titular town in Alicante, with a cast toplined by British thesp Timothy Spall and production duties handled by El Deseo, the company run by Agustín and Pedro Almodóvar. On Saturday, the movie opened the 65th edition of the Valladolid International Film Festival, and the filmmaker kindly answered this writer’s phone call after arriving back in her home city.

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Cineuropa: How was the experience of premiering your film in Valladolid, at such a peculiar moment in time, to put it mildly?
Isabel Coixet
: It was lovely to get together with the actors there, a while after the shoot, and with the producers as well, but it’s all very strange. As there was a curfew, they had to change the whole schedule. It’s throwing up all sorts of problems, but the important thing is that the movie connected with the audience, and it was beautiful to watch it in a theatre with a fantastic projector and spectacular sound… And I’ll settle for that because that’s all we can do for now. It’s all very bizarre, as it seems that we’re going to be releasing it at the oddest moment of the last few years. I don’t know... We’re doing the best we can.

In your films, you talk about youngsters, but also older people, which is nice...
There has to be a bit of everything: it seems like there are some groups that are never shown on the big screen, or it’s almost as if a 50-year-old woman has to appear wearing a headscarf. There are so many stories to tell about middle age, and they are not always talked about. I began writing the film ten years ago during a trip to Benidorm, where there is a group of older folks, but my protagonists are a bunch of outsiders in the world of outsiders that is Benidorm.

But the movie proves that you’re never too old to fall in love or to suddenly change the course of your life.
It’s never too late to really start living, to start feeling things or to get passionate about things. Or to have fun, of course.

Your main character is obsessed with climatology: the weather is changeable and unpredictable, like life itself.
One of the things that the film talks about is that moment when you look up at the sky, and it seems as though anything is possible, just from the promise of the weather. Even though it appears as though everything is set in stone, it’s not. And that also happens with life: look at what’s happening right now; nobody could have imagined we’d be going through what we are now. Nothing is written, and you can be caught by surprise every five minutes.

Our attention is also drawn to the counterpoint between the light in Manchester, where the main character comes from, and the light in Benidorm, which dazzles him as soon as he lands there...
The sun blinds him: it’s another type of light, atmosphere and air. He reaches a surprising place, a real goldmine for any director, full of constant contradictions and paradoxes. I think it’s a very interesting place, and many filmmakers such as myself are now discovering it. While we were filming there, two other shoots were taking place: one for a film and one for a series.

Your feature mixes romanticism with humour and suspense... How do you manage to bring together so many ingredients harmoniously, like in a decent paella?
I like that analogy a lot! I’ve used a thriller-like structure as an excuse, a bit like a MacGuffin, as Hitchcock said, to broach other things: a love story. There’s a lot of comedy, too, as well as many characters who are lonely and lost, like in all of my films, because in the end I always talk about the things I like.

You mentioned Alfred Hitchcock, and Ana Torrent’s character in your movie rather brings to mind the housekeeper from Rebecca...
Totally! That was one of our references: with her look alone, Ana expresses so much that she doesn’t need any lines. It’s a role I adore: she let us make her extremely ugly for the film, and I’m really happy that I worked with her and gave her the opportunity to play a character that I’m sure had a great time.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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