Custody Wins the GFF18 Audience Award

The winner of the GFF18 Audience Award was announced by Ben Wheatley at our Closing Gala Screening of Nae Pasaran, with Custody coming in first out of the ten films nominated. The Audience Award is the only award that the festival gives, voted for by the audience itself, with past winners including Radiator, Mustang, and Lipstick Under my Burkha. Festival co-director Allan Hunter read out director Xavier Legrand’s acceptance speech, stating:

“It is a great honour to win this award. My thanks go out to the festival and its wonderful audiences for it. The festival has a great spirit and sense of community, especially in the face of this week’s weather events, and myself and the film’s star, Denis Ménochet, hope to revisit again in the coming years, with or without snow.”

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Left: Ben Wheatley announces the winner; Right: Festival Co-director Allan Hunter reads Xavier Legrand's acceptance speech.

Legrand and Ménochet had joined the festival at our screening of the film on Tuesday 27 February, experiencing their first brush with encroaching Beast from the East on the GFF18 red carpet. Following the film, the pair took part in an enlightening Q&A. The effect the film had on the crowd was immediately evident as the first audience member to get their hands on a microphone simply proclaimed “Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!” to which Ménochet responded “Merci! Merci! Merci!”

With comparisons being drawn to the likes of The Night of the Hunter to All About Eve, audience discussion was wide-ranging and engaging. Questions revealed the depths to which both Legrand and his actors went to portray the issues at play in the film as honestly as possible. Ménochet started of his discussion of his role by explaining how he had closely studied testimonies of people who had gone through the experiences depicted in the film to anchor his character and extract patterns of behavior.

Legrand expanded on this, saying that in order to genuinely represent a couple going through the kind of dissolution of a marriage shown on screen, and the custody battle tangled within this, he talked to judges, people from adjacent services, support groups and as many people who work close to these events as possible. Indeed, when asked a question regarding the choice of having the first scene in the film, a custody hearing in which the lawyers on either side and the judge are all played by women, Legrand revealed that this was very much a choice in line with his pursuit of realism on screen.

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Xavier Legrand and Denis Menochet joined us on the GFF18 Red Carpet for the UK Premiere of Custody

“95% judges and lawyers with a focus on family law in France are female, due to the fact that it often happens in urban centers and women who are judges or lawyers are often mothers and they can’t travel to different locations so much so they end up staying in the region and overwhelmingly end up being in these positions of judging or defending these people.”

In looking at his choice to tackle these social issues from such a well-researched social perspective, and reflecting on the positioning of male and female characters within this, Legrand added

“I’m not grandiose to say that it’s a political film. I will, however say that I’m a citizen. And I want to offer my perspective and thoughts on a situation that concerns all of us. Cinema can help us seen the world differently, and I’m better at telling stories than I am at making political speeches. I’m trying to create a bridge between my artistic and civic consciousness.  Men don’t often talk about these topics or speak about them and I’m very steadfast and happy to take on the position of facilitating discussion about these things.”

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The screening of Custody was followed by a Q&A with Xavier Legrand and Denis Menochet

Ultimately, both Legrand and Ménochet stressed that their approach hoped to render a frank portrayal of the conflict between Custody’s characters. Legrand stated “Without justifying it at all, or excusing it in any way, but just to repeat that they are humans rather than monsters.” While Ménochet elaborated “No one is one-dimensional. People are all multi-dimensional. I’m not pleading anything. I’m just saying that that’s a human thing.”

Closing Gala Photography: Pete Copeland
Custody Red Carpet and Q&A Photography: Stuart Crawford

Custody will return to GFT in April. 

At Glasgow Film Festival, we pride ourselves on being a festival that loves the movies and loves our audience. GFF18 is your festival - so talk to us and let us know what you thought! Did you see Custody? Which was your favourite Audience Award nominee? Tag us in your photos, posts and tweets - we want to hear from you! #GFF18

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