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Roxane

Roxane

FEATURE FILM
Comedy

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Raymond tries an unconventional approach to save his organic egg farm by turning his pet hen Roxane into a star of the web
Screenplay
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Writen by: Mélanie Auffret and Michaël Souhaité

Directed by

Mélanie Auffret

Michaël Souhaité

Starring

Guillaume de Tonquedec (César winner for Best Supporting Actor in What's in a Name? Love Me No More, Desperate Parents)
Léa Drucker (Custody, The Blue Room)
Lionel Abelanski (Edmond, On the Other Side of the Tracks)
Kate Duchêne British actress
Liliane Rovère (TV Series Call my Agent)
Michel Jonasz

Production

Foucauld Barré & Nicolas Duval Adassovsky - Quad Films (C’est La Vie, The Intouchables, Heartbreaker)

Delivery: 1st Quarter 2019

2018 / Original language: French / Color

A happily married father of three, Raymond runs an organic egg farm in Brittany, France. He also entertains a secret passion for theater and in particular for the play Cyrano de Bergerac, which he recites to his favorite and only audience: his hens! When his main egg buyer walks out on him, his entire life goes haywire. Desperate to save his farm, he takes on the crazy challenge of turning his love for theater into a series of internet performances starring himself and his best friend/confidante, the amazing pet hen Roxane!

When he posts his first video on YouTube, his friends and family are aghast. But what a stroke of luck when his eccentric neighbor Wendy, a British ex-pat, turns out to be a theater scholar! With her unexpected help Raymond works hard to improve his performances and create a buzz. Can he save his farm, family and marriage by making Roxane and his chicken farm famous?

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Cinematographer: Nicolas Massart (Two is a family)

Music Composer: Gaëtan Roussel (Camille Rewinds, Mammuth)

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Director's Note - Mélanie Auffret

It all began in Brittany, in a country village called Corlay. Native to the region, I had grandparents who were farmers, which gave me the opportunity to get to know the world of agriculture - an atypical and authentic world full of humor and emotion, a rich and incredibly cinematic subject.
Raymond is the main character of a story that came to me quite naturally. One winter morning, I was out milking with Marcel, a local farmer. Between two swishes of a cow's tail, he confidentially confessed to me that he had a passion for classical theater.

- "Texts with rhymes, things like that, I think they're beautiful. I don't understand them all, but I like to say them, read them. I even know a few and recite them."
- "Oh, really? To who?"
- "To my cows, while I milk them or take them out to pasture. They sure don't judge me! I even think they like it."
He'd never told anyone that before, not even his wife. In a rural setting like that, the fear of what others might think of you is pervasive. And the worst criticism would probably be, "If you have time to clown around, that means you don't have time to take care of your livestock!" Their animals are much more than just a job - it's their way of life.

I've been accustomed since childhood to these silent but fascinating characters who make everything worth close observation. A lot of farmers are very reserved and only speak their mind on rare occasions. Or in the words of Jacques, a local character I've known for a very long time:
"Why waste my energy on talk when all it takes is a look?" Our character Raymond is a lot like that, too. He has built a shell around himself when it comes to human relationships. So it's with his hen Roxane that he truly expresses himself. When he discovers the theater, it changes him profoundly. Over the course of the story, Raymond simply learns to open up. He even becomes capable of telling his wife, "An Englishwoman taught me French."

This story is a means for me to portray the wonderful relationships farmers have with their animals. As an alternative to cows, we preferred to turn our attention to our fine feathered chicken friends.
When I made my short film SOIS HEUREUSE MA POULE (MY HAPPY HEN), I discovered what great actresses hens can be! Their reactions, cackles and expressive eyes give them enormous comic potential. So it was only logical that they would become the key characters of this story.
Every farmer always has a pet dog to help him with work and keep him company. This faithful companion helps him to herd, move or contain his cows or sheep. In Raymond's case, his hen Roxane takes on this role and serves as his companion.

This relationship will make for a truly funny and atypical duo on screen. Portraying the way Raymond and his chickens relate to each other requires subtle filming, directing, and editing choices, and I am determined to push its comic potential as far as it can go without sacrificing credibility. The world of agriculture is by nature authentic, so I don't want to use special effects for the chickens' reactions. I know how expressive, funny and touching they can be. As a director, my work with the chickens will consist of filming real reactions that allow the audience to identify with what our famous feathered actresses are feeling. Obviously, playing with the different looks the hens make and the situational comedy they provoke with Raymond will be a priority, to emphasize the film's comic aspects. But we will always stay close to a certain realism.

With this film, I want to give a different vision of what farm life is like.?Raymond likes to take selfies of himself with his sidekick hen, Roxane. He lives in the country, but he is connected. While I was writing the story, I spent entire work days with several different farmers. I want to put that experience to use in the film and avoid resorting to clichés about farmers. On the contrary, I want to tell this story very realistically. My grandfather always laughed at how farmer characters lack credibility in films. "He's way too clean to go out in the fields - he's just making it look like he's working!" I absolutely do not want Raymond to "make it look like" he's working. He has to work. A man who spends eight hours a day in the fields has to have dirty coveralls at the end of the day. He rarely wears a wedding ring because of the manual work. All those little details are essential to make this story as truthful as it deserves to be; they are precious elements of creating comedy as well as emotionally touching scenes.
My goal is to make people laugh, entertain and move them, using a real foundation, solidly documented and full of realism.

Today, the agricultural world is affected by problems that I want to bring to light. Raymond is confronted with the economic reality of the falling price of the egg, which anchors the film in current issues that affect rural populations. But in truth, these types of problems are also occurring in many other professions. Faced with this crisis, our character will find his own unique way to save his farm. Instead of bowing down to the law of the marketplace and drastically reducing his prices, he will reveal his secret for producing a good egg: reciting great theatrical works to his hens to keep them happy. Because he is convinced that "happy hens" make better eggs.

During the writing stages, we paid extra attention to the supporting roles, which once again, are inspired by real life. Wendy, for example, is an Englishwoman like many who live in central Brittany. Many British ex-pats move to the region for its clement weather and affordable homes! Whether in Brittany or elsewhere, everyone in France knows a Raymond, a Poupou or an Auntie Simone. They are as authentic as our regions.
This project has been a part of me for many years. With this film, I want to tell an original story full of humor that spares nothing to respect the authenticity of its situations and context. As the granddaughter of a farmer, I am proud to take on the challenge of portraying a man of his times, an underdog whose crazy dream allows us to make his story comic, and at the same time, touching and sincere.