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TIFF Women Directors: Meet Isabel Coixet – ‘Learning to Drive’

TIFF Women Directors: Meet Isabel Coixet - 'Learning to Drive'

Isabel Coixet was born in Barcelona.
Since her debut feature, Too Old
to Die Young
(1989), she has directed
Things I Never Told You (1996), My Life
Without Me
(2003), The Secret Life of Words (2005),
Elegy (2008), Map of the Sounds of
(2009), Another Me (2013), and a segment
of Paris, Je T’aime (2006).

In her latest film, Learning to Drive, a Manhattan writer (Patricia Clarkson) finds solace in her biweekly lessons with a Sikh driving instructor (Ben Kingsley) after her husband leaves her. The film is adapted from Katha Pollitt’s 2002 essay for The New Yorker. (TIFF official site)

Learning to Drive will play at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 10, and 12.

WaH: Please give us your description of the film playing.

IC: Learning
to Drive
is a sweet and sour comedy about the unlikely friendship
between a woman (a writer played by Patricia Clarkson) and a man (a
Sikh taxi driver played by Ben Kingsley) coming from two different
WaH: What drew you to this script?

IC: It was the possibility to explore the world of the friendship between these two completely opposite characters, and also the Sikh community in NYC, which I had never seen before on the screen.

WaH: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

IC: The
fact that almost half of the film happens inside a car was not an easy
task. We also shot in August in NYC. Really, really, REALLY hot!
WaH: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theatre?

IC: I want the audience to feel that they share the intimacy of these characters and that they’ll know a little more about human nature. 

WaH: What advice do you have for other female directors?

IC: Stubbornness.
And don’t listen to what other people (especially male directors or male
producers) say about your work. Nobody knows what’s your point of
view better than yourself.
WaH: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?

IC: I guess the biggest misconception is I’m a drama queen! I have a great sense of humor, I swear. But okay, yes: I’m a drama queen.
WaH: How did you get your film funded?

IC: The Hammond brothers, two independent producers, financed the film entirely.
WaH: Name your favorite women directed film and why.

IC: I deeply admire Agnès Varda. Among her films, Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse is my favorite. It’s a true masterpiece about the wasting
of food in the First World and also a beautiful meditation about learning and aging. Agnès is eighty-something and one of the youngest and
freshest filmmakers I know.

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