On March 20, 2023, Arianna Bocco, President of IFC Films, and Ryan Werner, Head of Cinetic Marketing, were each awarded with the insignia of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by Gaëtan Bruel, Cultural Counselor of France to the United States and Director of Villa Albertine, at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York.
The Cultural Counselor began by presenting the insignia to Arianna Bocco:
Ladies and gentlemen, good evening,
I am Gaëtan Bruel, Cultural Counselor of France in the United States and Director of Villa Albertine, and it’s my pleasure to welcome you this evening to the Payne Whitney Mansion, Villa Albertine’s headquarters. Tonight, we gather to award two notable figures of the American independent film community – Ryan Werner and Ariana Bocco – with the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for their impressive contributions to the promotion and distribution of French films in the United States.
Beyond entertainment, cinema serves as a platform for the discovery of new ideas, experiences, and cultures, introducing viewers to the rich and varied stories of those around the world. At a time when international features struggle to reach cinemas in light of the pandemic and the rise of online digital platforms, it is inspiring to see the commitment of creative professionals such as Arianna and Ryan to bringing foreign auteur-driven films to the forefront.
Arianna, through your work at IFC Films for the past 17 years – first as spearheading the acquisitions and production of films and most recently as president of the company – you have championed creative talent from across the world. The roster of 400+ films at IFC for which you have acquired distribution rights and brought to American movie theaters is astonishing, featuring notable French and francophone films, including Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes’ Oscar-nominated Two Days, One Night and Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria and Personal Shopper. Thanks to your dedication to highlighting the best of French cinema in American theatrical slates, our finest filmmakers have gained both visibility beyond the French market and recognition for their immense talent through award nominations both in the United States and across the world.
Your profound and lasting impression on the diffusion of French cinema abroad is evidenced by your efforts to acquire the American distributions rights of Le Fableux destin d’Amelie Poulain, while working as Senior Vice-President of Acquistions at Miramax Films. As many of our American guests may know, Le Fableux destin d’Amelie Poulain, known simply as Amélie, later went on to meet great success in the U.S. for its whimsical depiction of Paris, and continues to serve as a great introduction to French cinema and learning resource for students of the French language.
What is most impressive about your career and creative vision is the manner in which you carefully select director-driven films to introduce to the U.S. market, prioritizing content that is both thought-provoking and socially relevant. Your recent acquisition of the French film, Happening, based on the novel by Annie Ernaux, has helped to renew cross-generational and cross-cultural discussions about women’s rights. Your close friend and colleague at Unifrance, Adeline Monzier, spoke of your passion for this project and the fact that you flew to Paris to meet with the film’s director, Audrey Diwan, “before the ink was dry on the distribution contract.” Your commitment to the distribution of the film undoubtedly helped it to garner further recognition and accolades in the U.S., including the Gotham Award for Best International Feature in 2022 and a Director’s Guild of America nomination in 2023. You’ll be pleased to know, we at Villa Albertine share the same interest in the powerful narrative that Happening conveys; in fact, we recently hosted a live reading of the novel just a few weeks ago!
Thank you, Arianna, for the thoughtfulness and your dedication to bringing meaningful French stories to American cinemas and audiences. In recognition of your role in strengthening the ties between the French and U.S. film industries,
Arianna Bocco, au nom du Président de la République, nous vous remettons l’insigne de chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
The Cultural Counselor Gaëtan Bruel then went on to present the insignia to Ryan Werner:
I would now like to turn to the second guest of honor of the evening, Ryan Werner, who has made impressive strides in promoting French and international features in the U.S. throughout his 25+ year career. Ryan, as a leading film publicity and marketing consultant and head of Cinetic Marketing, you have worked tirelessly to strengthen ties between independent French filmmakers and the U.S. film industry. Alongside your team, you have spearheaded festivals, film releases, and award campaigns, working with five Palme d’Or winners over the last nine years and garnering a prominent reputation at the Cannes Film Festival. The impressive roster of French directors, writers, and producers with whom you nurture close partnerships, including your dear friend Claire Denis, Jacques Audiard, Alice Diop, Louis Garrel, and Michel Hazanavicius, exemplifies their confidence in your talent and your expertise promoting French stories to American audiences.
As we gather here in New York to recognize your tremendous accomplishments, I cannot help but mention your role in bringing French films to the city through your close collaboration with Unifrance on publicizing Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Film at Lincoln Center, which concluded its 28th edition on March 12th! Each year, the city’s residents, including myself, look forward to the variety of contemporary French features the festival highlights, as well as the interesting accompanying talks and events.
In addition to your roles as a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a U.S. delegate of the Berlin International Film Festival, what is most commendable about your career is the time you dedicate to supporting emerging filmmakers. Your work with advising up-and-coming documentarians on creative approaches to distribution, outreach, and impact strategies at the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Creative Producing Lab, as well as sharing advice on acquisitions at numerous international film festivals, such as Cannes, Telluride, and Toronto, will help to guide generations of filmmakers forward.
We look forward to the innovative ventures that you explore to showcase international films in the U.S., including your new distribution label, Sideshow Pictures. Johnathan Sehring, your partner in this endeavor, expressed your passion for French cinema best in saying, “Anyone who knows Ryan knows that his blood runs French blue. I know of no one who is more passionately committed to French cinema than Ryan – he works tirelessly promoting French cinema and is its greatest champion in the United States. He is someone who loves to work behind the scenes, but his taste, knowledge and determination is unparalleled, and I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this honor than Ryan.”
I know I speak for all of France when I wish both of you success in this endeavor and express my eagerness to see the wonderful creative choices you will continue to make, championing the best of French talent along the way.
The beauty of film is that it is timeless – once captured on camera, it can be enjoyed by generations of film-lovers, touching viewers with its meaningful stories and stimulating important discussions amongst friends and family. Thank you for serving as bridge, bringing French narratives into American households, using our shared passion for cinema to strengthen the relationship between our two countries. Your work testifies to the truth that the best stories are universal and can be appreciated by all.
In recognition of strengthening the ties between the French and U.S. film industries,
Ryan Werner, au nom du Président de la République, nous vous remettons l’insigne de Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.