Isabel Coixet: “There is a long past of men with power who from their position confused seduction with abuse”

-Question: Before it was called “going through the stone”, do you remember?-Response: Yes, there is a lot of going through the stone and confusing things; a long past of men with power who, from their position, confused seduction with abuse. It is necessary to educate the new generations so that this does not happen again.

-P: Do you think that the newest have it clear?-A: No, they do not have a clear identification of where the abuse is, while women in their 30s have identified those unhealthy behaviors.

-Q: Have you ever been in a situation that could be similar to the ones you describe?-A: Yes. Yes, yes, tell me a single woman who has not been in a situation like this. She has happened to all women in the world.

-P: And there are even worlds where abuse is the pattern, let’s say Africa or Arab culture: are women merchandise there?-A: Yes, it is a universal pattern in many latitudes.

-Q: What differentiates this case from so many similar situations in this world here is the systematization of the abuse? -A: Yes, it is about a very clever man (Antonio Gómez) who rose to power in the institution, a school of 900 students, most of them women. What I want to tell you is how in a small community these networks of silence are created. As the lawyer in the case says, “it seems to us that if we talk we destroy social peace”, then they tell you to turn the page, there is no big deal. There are unclosed wounds that hurt the lives of these people, who are not traumatized, they have recovered, but they need to talk; And that was what moved me: the desire to talk to them now that they are clear about what happened, and what to do to prevent it from happening again.

-P: What slows down the response to an aberration of this type is “neutrality”, he says. Was the school, in this case, complicit in its silence? Because all this was known.-A: There were cases of teachers who left the school when they saw what was happening there, but everything was swept under the rug, and of course, the dirt was still there. It is not about puritanism, but when you see the works of this “professor & rdquor; that he was supposed to know how to teach, and that gave him power, you realize that 90% were an absolute sexualization. I have never asked an actor to masturbate: it is about acting, and that is the magic of the performing arts. There are less humiliating and more effective methods than asking a student to masturbate for real in public.

-Q: You have said that this work has revealed to you the worst of human nature. Is man so perverse by nature?-A: Not the worst, but there are many things here that obsess me and that constitute the theme of my cinema and my life: how is a community capable of deceiving itself, of turning its face when faced with events of this type, of saying to how other victims have to behave? Reporting means spending hours in front of people you don’t know, like judges and lawyers, reliving matters you’d rather forget. In cases of abuse, this step is terrifying, and the victims are required to be perfect in their denunciation, because if they don’t cry enough we won’t believe them.

-P: Do you have to be bad by nature for something like that?-A: It is a question that I often ask myself, why in the case of abused twins, one drifts into psychopathy and the other does not? I believe that there are basically bad people, who have come into the world to do evil and that is the only way they live, and there are hearts with legs.

-P: Would a woman be capable of something similar?-A: I suppose so, although as a historian I can tell you that the women who have acted in this way have always been in response to previous cruelties. Statistics tell us that among the cases of psychopathy, 95% correspond to men.

-Q: Do you agree with the theory of liquid sex that maintains that there is no masculinity or femininity? -A: There has always been liquid sexuality, it happens that now it is more visible; Of course I have nothing to object to, but I am surprised that it has become the center of the debate. I am fortunate to be surrounded by such diverse people that I only differentiate the world between good beings, without overacting, open to doubt and making mistakes, and those others of the canon and dogma.

-P: The worst punishment for these victims of abuse is the one that society inflicts on them, he says, with the well-known arguments of the miniskirt and consent. What is consent? -A: A pretty ugly concept. To consent is to tacitly approve a sexual behavior, but where is the pleasure if one of the two attitudes is passive? Sex has to happen when both want it, and there is no consent there. There is talk of consent when there is a situation of power from one over the other, but a sexual relationship cannot be established from power.

-P: The victims finally dare to face it and denounce it, in 2018, but the prosecution decides that the case is dismissed unless new complaints are filed. How is it possible that no more recent victim has raised their voice? -A: Yes, new complaints have been filed as a result of the documentary, and the case and the investigation have been reopened at the unanimous request of the Lleida City Council.

-Q: Did those victims who were silent from 2018 until the viewing of the film continue to feel guilty, dirty? the yellow roof?-A: Surely. Even some of the youngest who took part in the documentary, thanks to the circle (the Nou Cercle) created by the complainants, have reviewed their “guilt& rdquor; and they have resolved that no, they are not guilty.

-Q: The courts let him go, but what about the citizens, in a place as small as Lleida, have the citizens punished him?-A: He had many supporters, people who trusted him so blindly that they couldn’t believe the victims. I asked them not to exaggerate his testimony in the slightest, that solidarity is not sought with tears.

-P: The fact is that he goes unpunished and does not hide, but continues to be a public figure in Brazil…-A: He left 3 years ago, following the complaint, and with compensation of 60,000 euros from the school.

-P:… Will the punishment come now, thanks to the screening of the documentary? Was that what you were after, in addition to giving the victims a voice?-A: I was looking for justice for the girls, a real and effective recognition of what happened. I want what they want, and we are starting with the inclusion of more girls in the legal dossier, with which the investigation has been reopened. Throughout the process, the support of Dones A Escena and their cry: This is not theater! Hopefully it is a warning because what has happened continues to be repeated in many other places.

-Q: Is this line of abuse easier to cross in the world of performing arts than in other trades and professions?-R: It shouldn’t, the line that must be crossed to reach a situation of abuse is not fine.

-P: Great actresses like Carmen Maura or Concha Velasco tell how even their families disowned them because being an actress was a job for whores, showgirls, prostitutes. Does this keep happening?-A: No, today the interpreting profession has other statuses. No, it wasn’t a respectable trade then, neither for men.

-Q: Isabel, do you use any technique that prevents the actors from feeling intimidated or violated in a sex scene?-A: I have shot many sex scenes of all kinds, and I have always considered them in a very healthy way. I specify a lot in the script, with words, what I would like to see on the screen; and I always tell the actors that we stop whenever they want. Everything happens through honesty, you have to demystify. It would be hard for me to shoot a massacre because I’ve never been in the middle of a war, but fucking, I fuck, and it’s not some kind of satanic ritual. It’s like showing your body on a beach, whether or not you have lorzas: it’s a matter of forgetting false shame. In the cinema there are many ways of doing things, and the best sex scenes are not exactly those that show the most nudity.

-Q: Let’s be ambitious, could the Nou Cercle (complaint platform created as a result of this case) become a new #Metoo?-A: The important thing about the slogans is the movement they unleash, the feeling of having permission to count. If people see patterns when watching the documentary, I will feel that we have achieved a lot. The slogans work but currently there is a setback of feminist aspirations in the United States: how is it possible that the great debate is about the right to abortion? We persist in judging and out there…. We are not doing well there.

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Isabel Coixet: “There is a long past of men with power who from their position confused seduction with abuse”