Things I Never Told You (1996) - News Poster

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Berlinale 2019: Isabel Coixet’s ‘Elisa and Marcela’

In 1901 Spain, Marcela Gracia Ibeas took on the identity of Mario Sánchez to marry her lover of fifteen years, Elisa Sanchez Loriga. The couple was later discovered and had to escape to Argentina. The wedding, according to the Diocesan Archive, is still valid, as neither the Church nor the civil registry annulled the marriage certificates, so this is the first recorded same-sex marriage in Spain, 100 years before it was declared legal in 2005; although, in the Middle Ages, a same-sex marriage between the two men Pedro Díaz and Muño Vandilaz in the Galician municipality of Rairiz de Veiga in Spain was recorded on 16 April 1061…

By José Sellier — Foto publicada en La Voz de Galicia en 1901-Via http://www.20minutos.es/museo-virtual/foto/2259/rank/4/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2256437

The two worked as teachers at a time when the vast majority of the Galician population was illiterate.
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Berlinale 2018: First Competition & Special Films Announced

In den Gängen (In the Aisles)

The first ten films have been selected for the Competition and the Berlinale Special for next year’s Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale).

Alongside the previously announced opening film, Isle of Dogs by Wes Anderson, seven productions and co-productions from France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, Serbia, the Russian Federation, and the USA have been invited to take part in the Competition.

So far two productions have been invited to participate in the Berlinale Special. As part of the Official Programme, it screens recent works by contemporary filmmakers, as well as documentaries and works with extraordinary formats.

Benoit Jacquot, Gus Van Sant, Alexey German Jr., Ma?gorzata Szumowska, Philip Gröning, Thomas Stuber, and Laura Bispuri all feature in the Competition, while Isabel Coixet and Lars Kraume feature in the Berlinale Special.

Competition

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

USA

By Gus Van Sant (Milk,
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'Learning to Drive' – A Conversation with Director Isabel Coixet, and Actors Patricia Clarkson & Sarita Choudhury

I recently sat down with director Isabel Coixet, and actors Patricia Clarkson and Sarita Choudhury at the Crosby Hotel in New York City, to discuss their new film "Learning to Drive." The film, written by Sarah Kernochan, is based on the autobiographical New Yorker short story by Katha Pollit, a long-time political columnist for the Nation.

Wendy is a fiery Manhattan author whose husband has just left her for a younger woman; Darwan is a soft-spoken taxi driver from India on the verge of an arranged marriage. As Wendy sets out to reclaim her independence, she runs into a barrier common to many lifelong New Yorkers: she’s never learned to drive. When Wendy hires Darwan to teach her, her unraveling life and his calm restraint seem like an awkward fit. But as he shows her how to take control of the wheel, and she coaches him on how to impress a woman, their unlikely friendship awakens them to the joy, humor, and love in starting life anew.

My conversation began with Isabel Coixet and Sarita Choudhury

Isabel Coixet’s award-winning film credits include "Demaisiado viejo para morir joven," "Things I Never Told You,""My Life Without Me," "The Secret Life of Words," "Paris, je t’aime," "Elegy," "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo," "Yesterday Never Ends," "Another Me," "Nobody Wants the Night," as well as documentaries, including "Invisibles."

Currently, Sarita Choudhury can be seen on Showtime’s "Homeland." Her film credits include "Admission," "Gayby," "Midnight’s Children," "Generation Um…," "Entre Nos," "The Accidental Husband," "Lady in the Water," "The War Within," "Mississippi Masala," "Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love," "She Hate Me," "Just a Kiss," "Wild West," "High Art," "The House of the Spirits," "Gloria," and "A Perfect Murder."

Susan Kouguell: Tell me about the process of how "Learning to Drive" came about.

Isabel Coixet: We started talking about making this film with Patricia and Ben Kingsley when we were making "Elegy" (directed by Coixet, starring Clarkson and Kingsley) and we got along very well and we wanted to make another film together. Patricia discovered the short story by Katha Pollit, and she gave it to me and I thought it was wonderful. And then we got the screenwriter Sarah Kernocha involved. The film is a comedy but not a classical comedy. It was a very difficult film to pitch because you know financiers and producers want something they can put in one box and you can’t with this film. It was a long process. It took nine years.

Some Words Unspoken and the Intimacy of the Camera

Isabel Coixet: There is always this romantic feeling underneath [subtext], I think there is that possibility. You have to be true to your words. If they are true, you will have to stick to your words.

Sarita Choudhury: That’s what happens with people you meet. No you were my inspiration don’t make me your inspiration.

Isabel Coixet: I love Henry James. There is a possibility of romance in the air. My romantic side is always excited when I see something like this.

Sarita Choudhury: I had so few words in the film. In a way, I kept the words because I had to know not to say them. For us the script -- the situational was also in the script; the languidness. It was because Isabel holds the camera. There was a pace created to it. When you’re acting you can feel where the camera is, but when the camera is at the end of Isabel’s hand and she’s moving it, it almost creates an intimacy between you and the camera, and you and the actor. There’s a pace you normally don’t get in film. You didn’t know when she was on your face; you had to keep acting like acting in the theatre.

On The Lack of Women Directors

Isabel Coixet: There are so many articles about it. I’m always afraid to play the victim, to complain too much. I know there is an inequity with men and women directors. This is an issue in the world. I always say, (Coixet smiles) we have to ask for more salary to make up for all these years and maybe if we ask for more they’ll give us the same as a man.

I want to put my words where my mouth is by producing female directors; they are amazing talented people. I’m producing three short films and a feature documentary. That’s what I do.

Sarita Choudhury: I just did a young woman’s short film; there is something about her that’s brilliant. I’ve done two short films. I can’t change the caste system and I can’t do the voluntary work I need to be doing. Film is no different from the world, like Isabel said. That’s our work, to get every woman involved. And if a man is brilliant, let him in too.

I then asked Patricia Clarkson about her involvement with "Learning to Drive."

Academy Award® nominee and Emmy Award-winning actress, Patricia Clarkson, has worked extensively in independent films. The National Board of Review and the National Society of Film Critics named her Best Supporting Actress of the Year for "Pieces of April" and "The Station Agent." Her many film credits include "The Maze Runner," "Last Weekend," "Friends With Benefits," "One Day," "Easy A," "Shutter Island," "Vicky Christina Barcelona," "Elegy," "No Reservations," "All the Kings’ Men," "Lars and the Real Girl, and "Good Night, and Good Luck."

Susan Kouguell: What attracted you to the project?

Patricia Clarkson: I loved the Katha Pollit story in The New Yorker; it serendipitously came to me. I love Wendy, I love this character. I was nine years younger at the time, but I still felt I knew her. I was relentless trying to get this film made with producer Dana Friedman. I found it an equal dose of funny and tragic. I liked the almost commedia dell'arte aspect; this absurd situation and finding the tragic comedy. A woman who is brilliant who lives a great life -- she has everything, but “forgets to look up,” and then meets a man who has experienced tragic loss. They have disparate worlds. I found it a quintessential New York story, but it’s also universal. It’s an independent film, but it’s not independently-minded.

Some Final Words

The disparate worlds about which Clarkson refers to in regard to her character, Wendy’s relationship with Darwan [Ben Kingsley] -- the life of a financially successful New Yorker compared to the immigrant’s struggle, was a thematic element that I further discussed with Coixet and Choudhury. As Choudhury said to me, Coixet’s visual choices of her character, such as the moment when she watches feet walk by her basement apartment window, feeling trapped, underscore the poignancy of this fish-out-of-water situation. Coixet captures these elements with a delicate balance of both drama and comedy.

It was an inspiring morning to speak with these three powerful and talented women, who are committed to sharing their knowledge with the next generation of female filmmakers.

Award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker, Susan Kouguell teaches screenwriting at Purchase College Suny, and presents international seminars on screenwriting and film. Author of Savvy Characters Sell Screenplays! and The Savvy Screenwriter, she is chairperson of Su-City Pictures East, LLC, a consulting company founded in 1990 where she works with writers, filmmakers, and executives worldwide. www.su-city-pictures.com, http://su-city-pictures.com/wpblog
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Women to Watch: Director Isabel Coixet and Her New Film Project Starring Dafoe and Binoche

Continuing with her prolific career Spanish director Isabel Coixet has recently just wrapped up production on her film Learning to Drive starring Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson, all before the release of her psychological thriller Another Me this fall via Fox International and starring Sophie Turner and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. As if that wasn't enough, the director is getting ready to start yet another project titled Nobody Wants the Night, which stars acting giants like Willem Dafoe and Juliette Binoche, and young Rinko Kikuchi.

Coixet is one of a kind, as a woman director she is one of the very few that has also served as camera operator in several of her films, her distinct style and never-ending desire to create new work have earned her a distinct place in international cinema. Her body of work spans to ten films in both the narrative and documentary realms making her one of the most prolific directors workign today. She has premiered her films at the most important film festivals including Cannes’ Official Section, Berlin and Venice, and has worked with many of the most respected actors worldwide

2013 was a very busy year for Coixet, finishing Learning to Drive, which is based on Katha Pollitt’s essay and tells the story of a self-absorbed book critic (played by Clarkson) who, after a recent breakup, signs up for driving lessons as part of an effort to move on with her life. Her instructor is a Sikh man living in Queens (played by Kingsley), and together they will help each other to move forward with their lives. Now awaiting the release of Another Me, based on Cathy MacPhail’s young adult novel of the same name about identity anxiety in a teenage girl, played by Game of Thrones’ star Turner in her film debut, the director is also getting ready to start shooting Nobody Wants the Night early next year in Norway.

Her latest project is the story of two women, from two different worlds, and their struggle to survive in one of the most inhospitable places on Earth. Josephine (to be played by Binoche) is a proud yet naive woman in love with a man who prefers glory and ice to the comforts of an upper-class home. Allaka (to be played by Kikuchi), a young but wise Inuit woman, is in love with the same man with whom she’s expecting a child. Set against the backdrop of a relentless icy landscape, the film chronicles their long, tense wait for the same man they love in such distinct ways.

In 1996 Coixet she made her first English-language film, Things I Never Told You, a moving drama starring Lili Taylor and Andrew McCarthy. International success arrived with the 2003 intimate drama My Life Without Me, based on Nancy Kincaid’s short story, in which Sarah Polley plays Ann, a young mother who decides to hide to her family she has a terminal cancer. This Spanish-Canadian coproduction was a hit at the Berlin Film Festival, from that point on the director's career has grown exponentially and it seems there is no stopping her any time soon.
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Shadow & Act’s 5 Tips On Writing No-Budget/Low-Budget Feature Screenplays

Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of those no-budget/low-budget, straight-to-dvd movies that most of us will probably never bother to see; and, in watching them, I’ve witnessed far too many film production errors that I’d like to think most folks who call themselves filmmakers would already know to avoid.

I’m not certain whether it’s that these filmmakers aren’t aware, or they just don’t care. I’m hoping it’s the former, because if you don’t care, then, you have no business being a filmmaker, and you shouldn’t be surprised when your film isn’t well-received by critics and audiences.

Producing a film, no matter the budget, is already quite an involved task; when you’re working with a minuscule budget, it’s even more of a challenge; so why turn an already stressful process into an insurmountable one, jeopardizing the
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And The Winner Of The 2nd Shadow And Act $3000 Filmmaker Challenge Is…

After spending the last 2 months reading, re-reading and re-reading some 50+ short scripts and/or outlines, as well as watching and re-watching several short films sent in support of each application… we’ve chosen a winner of the second Shadow And Act Filmmaker Challenge.

First, I’d like to thank everyone who submitted their work. It takes courage to allow others to read and closely scrutinize your art, and we’re all grateful that those who did participate were willing, confident and trusting enough to enter the challenge!

Second, it was actually not an easy decision at all! There were fewer entries this time, and, in reading each script, we took into a number of things into consideration, like: the freshness and originality of the story, whether it’s something we haven’t really seen on screen before, or just don’t see very much of, and, most importantly, whether it
See full article at ShadowAndAct »

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