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Stephanie RONNET


Stephanie Ronnet is a regular contributor to Filmfestivals.com, she is based in Los Angeles, Montreal and Paris.
She is an entertainment industry and studio strategist, experienced in creating, developing and executing innovative brand strategies and impactful campaigns.
As a reporter, Stephanie was first published at 15 years of age in the UNESCO Courier, and writes for Filmfestivals.com consistently.  
Over the years, Stephanie has been the Executive Director of the French American Chamber of Commerce, Senior Executive at Entertainment News Agency, Filmfestivals.com, and she ran FOX SEARCHLIGHT France releasing One Hour Photo, Dancer Upstairs and other great movies. 
Stephanie defines herself as a Swiss knife driven by her love of cinema. She focuses on the making of her first film which she wrote, and looks for great projects to produce.


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When French “Touch” turns into French “Blows”


The ColCoa film festival is known to showcase la crème de la crème of French cinema in Los Angeles. Their edition of 2018 didn’t disappoint. French filmmaker Xavier Legrand came to present Custody. We met at the Sunset Marquis hotel by the pool, quite a significant gap between his social reality drama and that charming setting.

Let’s be honest, unless you’re into short-films or theater, the name of Xavier Legrand didn’t really ring a bell – until recently.
His first short film Just Before Losing Everything was selected in more than 100 festivals and gleaned 40 prizes. The film was Oscar-nominated in 2014 and won several awards including four prizes at Clermont-Ferrand in 2013 and the 2014 César for Best Short Film.

It took about 4 years for Xavier Legrand to get widely noticed by the industry and the public, and frankly, it hasn’t gone quietly.
First the consecration at the Venice Biennale in 2017, where he won 2 prizes for his critically acclaimed first film Custody, before landing raving reviews, plenty of media praise, garnering a total of 10 nominations and 8 prizes worldwide so far.

That’s pretty much what it took for him to now become a household name. Ain’t too shabby for a discreet director from the Old Continent.

So my dear non-French speaking friends from all over the globe, let’s get some practise, because you’re going to hear about this talented actor filmmaker a lot in the upcoming years.

It’s pronounced Gu—Za—Vié  Le—Grand, got that right ? Ok, now time to go down the rabbit hole and excavate some trivia about Mr Legrand…
Xavier Legrand was born in France in 1979. He studied drama at the National Conservatory of Paris. He performed for several directors in plays by Chekov, Shakespeare, Harold Pinter, Michel Vinaver and Peter Handke, and for Philippe Garrel, Laurent Jaoui, Benoit Cohen and Brigitte Sy for the screen.

Both as a director and a screenwriter, he’s never taken any classes, he’s a complete autodidact. He learnt his craft from the great filmmakers. As a kid, he would watch the films of Alfred Hitchcock on French TV. They had a major effect on the young Xavier Legrand. He would grow up loving the cinema of Claude Chabrol, Stanley Kubrick, Michael Haneke, Charles Laughton whom clearly influenced Custody.

Custody expands on the theme and characters of his short film Just Before Losing Everything. Miriam (Léa Drucker) and Antoine Besson (Denis Ménochet) are a divorced couple whose son Julien (Thomas Gioria) is forced by the judge’s ruling to split his time between his mother and his father. Julien who regards his father as a monstruous brute strives to protect his mother from the man he calls “The Other”. A hostage to the escalating conflict between his parents, Julien is pushed to the edge to prevent the worst from happening.

Lea Drucker is brilliant in the role of a woman confronting a manipulative and violent ex-husband. Denis Ménochet makes me think of a young Lino Ventura, his charismatic presence stands out throughout the entire movie. The young Thomas Gioria is absolutely amazing as he expresses fear with incredible nuance.

Xavier Legrand quotes three films which guided him in the writing: Kramer Versus Kramer, Night of the Hunter, and The Shining. Indeed Custody explores the relationship of a shattered family, where the tension gradually escalates and spirales into a horrific predicament.

His film captures a social reality that resonates very strongly with the MeToo movement and recent women’s causes that have ensued. Custody will open on June 29th in NY followed by a national release.

Watch my interview of Xavier Legrand on GetReel Rendez-Vous Filmfestivals.com and YouTube -- https://youtu.be/beYpEGFufYo

 

Stephanie Ronnet

 

 

 

 

 

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