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Top Spanish director to open Berlin Film Festival

Jessica Jones · 9 Jan 2015, 15:51

Published: 09 Jan 2015 15:51 GMT+01:00

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The organizers of the Berlin Festival of Cinema announced on Friday that Coixet’s film, which stars French actress Juliette Binoche (The English Patient), will open the Berlinale on February 5th.  

The film, set in Greenland, tells the story of Josephine Peary, the wife of Arctic explorer Robert Peary, who in 1908 decided to go and find her husband to celebrate his reaching the North Pole. Along the way Josephine forms a special bond with Allaka, an Inuit.

The film also stars Irish actor Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, Miller’s Crossing) and Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi (Babel, Pacific Rim and star of Coixet’s 2009 film, Map of the sounds of Tokyo).

Catalan director Coixet is a familiar face at the Berlin Film Festival; she has presented five films there and was an international jury member in 2009, but has yet to win a coveted Golden Bear.

Although Spanish, she is known for her English-lanuage films including My Life Without Me (2003) and Elegy (2008), starring Penelope Cruz and Ben Kingsley.

"I’m pleased to have this film opening the festival. Isabel Coixet has shown (in the film) an impressive and intense portrait of two women in an extreme situation", said Berlin Film Festival director Dieter Kosslick in a statement.

The film is an adventure-meets-love story and was filmed in Tenerife in the Canary Islands, making use of the tax breaks the islands offer filmmakers, as well as in Norway and Bulgaria.

While Coixet is a firm fan of the Berlinale there are other film festivals that she is not so keen on.

"At the moment I’m at the 'no bullshit' stage, as they’d say in New York", Coixet was quoted as saying in Spanish newspaper, 20 minutos, when talking about how she doesn't care what she says in the press.

Story continues below…

This approach might explain the fact that she has openly said she would never go back to the Cannes Film Festival, where her 2009 film Map of the sounds of Tokyo was greeted with boos.

"When I've argued with someone or had my heart broken in a restaurant, I can’t go back to that restaurant," Coixet said, explaining why she would never return to Cannes.

February will mark the 65th Berlinale, one of the world’s most famous film festivals, held from February 5th to February 15th. 

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Jessica Jones (jessica.jones@thelocal.com)

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