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Isabel Coixet: “I could not believe that a 66,000 square kilometre sea had become a desert”.

The director talks with CNA about her new documentary film and announces an upcoming fiction project, although no further details were unveiled.


23 September 2010 01:07 AM


ACN / Sarah Garrahan

San Sebastián (ACN).- In the early 1960s, the Aral Sea was the 4th largest sea in the world. It spanned 66,000 square kilometres and held 1,000 cubic kilometres of water. Nowadays, the sea is at risk of dying. The phantasmal images of abandoned boats in the middle of a desert are testimonies to this tragedy. Filmmaker Isabel Coixet presented her latest project at the San Sebastián Film Festival this Tuesday, a film that focuses on one of the most important environmental catastrophes of the last century. The film entitled \u2018Aral, the Lost Sea\u2019 was presented as part of the \u2018.DOC\u2019 section of the festival\u2019s competition. In an interview with CNA, Coixet talked about her new documentary film.

Why did you decide to make a documentary about the Aral Sea?

Why not? The We Are Water Foundation asked me if I had an idea for a project related with water and I proposed a project about the disappearance of the Aral Sea. It is a topic I have been obsessed with for many years. It really intrigued me. A sea that once spanned 66,000 square kilometres is now a desert. I could not believe it. I needed to go there.

It covers a widespread environmental catastrophe.

Yes, because it is not just the sea. These are changes in the ecosystem. There is not even a bird or a fly. Life in the Aral Sea has stopped. When I went to the Aral Sea I was reminded of final scene of the \u2018Planet of the Apes\u2019. That is the first thing I thought.

There have actually been many documentaries and reports about this environmental disaster. The citizens of Muynak tell jokes that if every journalist brought a bucket of water with them, the sea would eventually be full again\u2026

Yes, many journalists have gone there, especially a few years ago. If a documentary does not try to make people aware, it is not useful for anything. \u2018Aral, the Lose Sea\u2019 seeks to raise money for 4 NGOs that are related to water. There are certainly documentaries that end up not changing anything but I hope this one can be useful for something.

So sometimes there is just hope?

In the Aral it is lost. Specialists say that the number of resources it would take to refill the sea would better go to other projects. But we can still do things to prevent more catastrophes like the Aral.

In the documentary, the camera is always moving. Is it trying to reproduce the feeling of sailing for the viewer?

A little, yes. More like a horrible wind! I have the tendency to move the camera even when it is not necessary. I always do this. I see a tripod and start running. It is also a way of creating intimacy with the viewer. It is like being there.

Now that you have presented \u2018Aral, the Lose Sea\u2019, do you have any other projects in mind?

Yes, I am still working on it. I\u2019m working on a new fiction film, but I can\u2019t say anything more\u2026


  • Isabel Coixet in one moment of the interview (by ACN)

  • Isabel Coixet in one moment of the interview (by ACN)

  • Isabel Coixet in one moment of the interview (by ACN)
  • Isabel Coixet in one moment of the interview (by ACN)