French bring light & space to AFI

Sony Pictures Classics' 'Rust and Bone' screens at the Chinese

On the eve of the presidential elections, AFI took its audience out of America and into the heart of France with the L.A. preem of Sony Pictures Classics’ “Rust and Bone,” starring Marion Cotillard, at the Chinese.

According to director-writer Jacques Audiard and co-writer Thomas Bidegain, the inspiration for the pic came from wanting to do something completely different from their last project.

” ‘The Prophet’ is a story in jail with no women, no space, no light, and here we wanted to do a film with a strong female character, light and space,” said Bidegain, who acted as Audiard’s translator at the Chinese.

“It was very challenging because I am not used to telling a love story and this was a love story,” Audiard said.

A very different love story: After a run-in with a killer whale, Cotillard’s character recovers with the help of a street boxer, played by Matthias Schoenaerts.

“The journey we took with Jacques to find Stephanie, she was so mysterious,” said the actress. “We had everything to discover.”

Schoenaerts also had something of a gut check.

“For a couple of months, I started boxing and I went to the gym to gain a lot of weight,” he recalled. “I had to eat a lot for the belly because they wanted me to look strong but not fit.”