Isabel Coixet, the Spanish director of My Life Without Me, Things I Never Told You, The Bookshop and It Snows in Benidorm, will be honored by the European Film Academy with this year’s European Achievement in World Cinema award for her life’s work.
Coixet has carved out an impressive career in what could be called pan-Atlantic cinema, making mainly English-language features with international casts but with a strongly European sensibility. She followed up her promising 1989 debut Demasiado viejo para morir joven (which won the best new director prize at Spain’s Goya awards) with the U.S.-shot drama Things I Never Told You, starring Andrew McCarthy and Lili Taylor. The film premiered in Berlin, a favorite launching pad for Coixet, who returned the German festival in 2003 with My Life Without Me, a romantic drama starring Sarah Polley as a young mother diagnosed with terminal cancer who decides to live out her final days with as much passion as she can muster. The film, which won the German Art House Cinema prize and was a dual European Film Award nominee, was Coixet’s international breakout.
Coixet re-teamed with Polley for The Secret Life of Words, co-starring Tim Robbins, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2005 and nabbed a best actress EFA nom for Polley, who plays a hearing impaired factory worker who cares for an injured oil rig worker (Robbins) who has temporarily lost his sight. The film was a big winner at Spain’s Goya awards taking best film, best director, and best screenplay honors.
Coixet’s list of A-list collaborators is long and includes Penélope Cruz and Ben Kingsley, stars of her 2008 feature Elegy, an adaptation of Phillip Roth’s novella The Dying Animal; Juliette Binoche, Gabriel Byrne and Rinko Kikuchi in the period drama Endless Night; and Emily Mortimer and Bill Nighy, who co-star in her 2018 Penelope Fitzgerald adaptation The Bookshop.
More recently, Coixet has returned to Spain, shooting the black-and-white period drama Elisa & Marcela (2019) for Netflix and the romantic feature Un amor, which premiered at San Sebastian this year.
Coixet will be honored at the 36th European Film Awards in Berlin on December 9.