Isabel Coixet, the most international Catalan film-maker, criticises the economic crisis in her new movie ‘Yesterday never ends’

Isabel Coixet, who has worked with top stars such as Tim Robbins, Ben Kingsley or Penelope Cruz, has released her new movie, ‘Yersterday never ends’, which is a stark portrait of the economic crisis. The film premiered at the last Berlinale. Coixet talked to ACN about the movie and the problems which are shaking the foundations of Spain. She also highlighted the movie was made without receiving public funds, as it would have been contradictory with the drama picture on the screen.

CNA / Pere Francesch / Violeta Gumà / Ana Macías

March 6, 2013 08:58 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- We are in 2017. Spain has more than seven million unemployed and Germany has refused to come to its third economic rescue. The crisis, poverty and healthcare system are deteriorating all the time. This is the context of Isabel Coixet’s new movie. The most international Catalan film director, who has worked with Tim Robbins, Ben Kingsley or Penelope Cruz, tells the story of two people, played by Javier Cámara and Candela Peña, who had loved each other in such desperate times. The movie, which has been released during the Berlinale with the name ‘Ayer no termina nunca’ (Yesterday never ends), is a harsh criticism of the health cuts, Spanish politics and the economic system. In an interview with ACN, Coixet said that it would be a contradiction to ask for subsidies for the movie and talked about the problems that are currently affecting Spain.

Both main characters (Candela Peña and Javier Cámara) are a couple who had lived through some good times together and now meet each other five years after the ending of their relationship. Their story isn’t so simple and they will live their drama again. “They represent two different positions on how to face life and suffering; two ways to face reality. Running away from it in his case or, in hers, by trying to change their environment through little things” she explained. The Catalan director pointed out that the characters “have a lot of weakness and contradictions just like everybody.”

‘Ayer no termina nunca’ is based on Coixet’s personal experiences and the perplexity everybody feels in Spain when opening the newspaper every day. “We are all sailing in the same ship. As much as you want to run away from it by doing yoga, reality is catching up with all of us.” Coixet said “friends who are losing their jobs, people evicted from their homes, Ester Quintana, who lost her eye in a demo and the political authority that denies it happened” are all examples of the recent problems and happenings that are shaking Spanish society.

“It is impossible to run away from our surroundings”

The Catalan director assured that she always tries “not to talk about her surroundings and that she wanted to run away”. Anyway, she said that “now it is impossible to run away, now it is impossible to do that”. Coixet added that generally speaking but especially in this context a movie is a calling. She also said that the only thing ‘Ayer no termina nunca’ does is to alert us of the danger we are in if the healthcare cuts keep going this way. “These cuts will not be something that happened to someone else. It will be something that affects our intimate personal life”. The movie is a love story about a couple whose background is something we live through every day’, she said.

This is one of the first Spanish movies to attack the crisis in such a stark and straight way. “I imagine there will be a lot of creators who will bring this reality to the screen, to the stage, to painting and to photography”, Coixet said. “The only thing ‘Ayer nunca termina’ says is that we have to talk about all of this, face our ghosts and the mistakes we have made so as not to give power to the people who are laughing at us.”

She spoke in favour of neighbour associations which, in her opinion, have to take more power because the current situation has to be fixed at a neighbourhood level and offered the character played by Candela Peña as an example. In the movie she is a woman who doesn’t talk about politics or big issues but instead tries to transform her life with small changes and sheer effort. “The problem is that we are in a pyramid where the ones on the top are screwing up the ones at the bottom. The elite is wrong and rotten and I wish all of us, the ones of the bottom, could climb together and put things in their right place”, she claimed.

Faced with this hard social and economical criticism, Coixet thinks that it would be a contradiction to ask for public money for the movie. “Now is not the moment, especially for a movie like this one” she said and added that “this movie is made thanks to the effort and work of all the people who wanted to help, sometimes not even asking to get paid while others asked for minimum wage.” The Catalan director admitted that some of her movies received a grant which went to the producers. That is why she is the producer of ‘Ayer no termina nunca’ but she said that she doesn’t know how to get grants or deal with the bureaucracy of it all.

Isabel Coixet talked of the on-screen magic between Candela and Cámara, the actors who play the main characters. The directors explained that “there is something strong between them and they are friends.” Their interpretation, she said, “is felt by the sight of each other” and added that “it wasn’t an easy shoot, but with them we have a foundation to work on.”

Shooting in Igualada, Central Catalonia

The movie took two weeks to shoot and was filmed in different locations of Igualada, in Central Catalonia. The scenes took place in historical and famous places around the Catalan town, including the cemetery, designed by the Catalan architect Enric Miralles, awarded the Pritzker Prize (Architecture’s Nobel Prize). “This cemetery is quite impressive. In my opinion there’s something related to mediation there, it makes me think about death, but without a sense of tragedy”, said Coixet.