Production Information “By the Sea is a story about a relationship derailed by loss, the tenacity of love,
and the path to recovery and acceptance.”
—Angelina Jolie Pitt
Written, directed and produced by Academy Award® winner ANGELINA JOLIE PITT, By the Sea is Jolie Pitt’s third feature film as director and follows last year’s epic Unbroken. The dramatic film stars BRAD PITT and Jolie Pitt, who are supported by an international ensemble led by MÉLANIE LAURENT (Inglourious Basterds, Now You See Me), MELVIL POUPAUD (Laurence Anyways, The Lady in the Portrait), as well as three-time César winner NIELS ARESTRUP (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The French Minister) and two-time César winner RICHARD BOHRINGER (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, Le grand chemin).
By the Sea follows an American writer named Roland (Pitt) and his wife, Vanessa (Jolie Pitt), who arrive in a tranquil and picturesque seaside resort in 1970s France, their marriage in apparent crisis. As they spend time with fellow travelers, including young newlyweds Lea (Laurent) and François (Poupaud), and village locals Michel (Arestrup) and Patrice (Bohringer), the couple begins to come to terms with unresolved issues in their own lives.
In its style and its treatment of themes of the human experience, By the Sea is reminiscent of European cinema and theater of the ’60s and ’70s—with its concentrated, lean storytelling style, spare dialogue and intimate, often disquieting atmosphere.
For the production, Jolie Pitt is joined behind the scenes by a crew that includes cinematographer CHRISTIAN BERGER (The White Ribbon, The Notebook), who used his Cine Reflect Lighting System to shoot the film; production designer JON HUTMAN (Unbroken, It’s Complicated); editors PATRICIA ROMMEL (TheLives of Others, In the Land of Blood and Honey) and MARTIN PENSA (Dallas Buyers Club, Wild); and costume designer ELLEN MIROJNICK (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, TV’s The Knick).
Pitt joins her in production duties, while CHRIS BRIGHAM (Inception), HOLLY GOLINE-SADOWSKI (Unbroken) and MICHAEL VIEIRA (Unbroken) serve as executive producers.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION By the Sea Begins Prior to her feature-length directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, and well before the beginning of photography on Universal’s World War II epic, Unbroken, Angelina Jolie Pitt wrote the screenplay for By the Sea as an exploration of grief and love.
Jolie Pitt reflects on her motivation: “I wrote By the Sea thinking that I wanted to explore grief—whether it was how some people haven’t been exposed to it, some have let it settle in, and others have found ways to overcome it. Everybody in this film represents a different way of addressing that subject.” That noted, initially she had no intention of portraying one of the leads. “I wrote it before I actually started directing films, so it wasn’t something I thought Brad and I would ever do together. When you write something, you’re often not even aware of why you write; it’s not until you’re caught up in it and have a reaction to it that you realize something bothers or affects you. I never assumed we’d actually make it or act in it, so I wrote with a degree of freedom.”
Jolie Pitt admits that she is fascinated by the fluidity of human existence, and that that informed her script: “There is never just the tragedy or the humor of life or the pure joy of it. It has extremes. Relationships also have those extremes. You can be weeping on the floor, then 20 minutes later you can be laughing about something bizarre. This film is an extreme version of that. What’s relatable to people is that you can be absolutely, madly in love with the same person that you sometimes feel like killing. You can be giddy and silly, and also depressed and miserable with them. It’s the waves of a relationship. Things don’t perfectly make sense and wrap up, and that forces a freedom as a writer.”
As her focus as an artist turned toward work behind the camera, Jolie Pitt’s attention turned again to her screenplay. She reveals: “By the Sea is not intended to be a commercial film. It was an opportunity for all of us to experiment and explore as artists and to create something delicate and special. There is a freedom in not making a commercial film. You can be bolder and experiment. It is emotionally more challenging and creative. As an artist, you want to be able to try things and sometimes avoid safe choices. We hope it will be enjoyed by people seeking a different, and perhaps more challenging, cinematic experience.”
Joining Jolie Pitt both in production duties and in front of the screen for By the Sea is husband Brad Pitt. He reflects on the story and their experience: “In the sense that it is sparse and elegant in its telling, Angie has written a very European film. Our job as actors is to make it more personal. Suddenly, to make it that personal, it becomes blurred. We have such history and mutual respect…as well as expectations of each other and our family. It was one of the most challenging things I’ve taken on. But at the same time, there’s been a great freedom in that, because we can experiment and play. It was oddly a safer environment than any set I’ve been on before, and so we let loose.”
Six characters take center stage in this tale, and Pitt walks us through the key players: “It’s a story about multiple couples at different stages in their lives. There are Lea and François, a couple who is just married and excited by the potential of the future; Michel and Patrice, who, in the form of a friendship, have been hardened and calloused and softened and widened by their experiences. Then there are our characters, Roland and Vanessa, who are at that stage where the newness has worn off and everything has come to the surface. It’s that point where they can either break through this and grow stronger beyond that point, or go their separate ways.”
It was the final pairing whom Jolie Pitt and Pitt ultimately decided to portray on screen. They would explore the travails of the second stage of love—and how couples cope with the unexpected blows that life brings to a relationship that started with endless promise and isn’t sure where to go next.
The director explains the attraction to developing these characters: “Most would probably divorce in Vanessa and Roland’s circumstances, but there is that central idea of commitment to someone to whom you have dedicated yourself. Sometimes, marriage isn’t easy, but you know that you have made that commitment, you have history, and you know why you are with that person. There is a comfort to it. It’s often true that one person wants to give up more than the other, and that it takes one to keep it alive, as Roland does in our film.”
Both the producers admit that this production offered them the opportunity to rediscover their love of the craft of acting. Reflects Jolie Pitt: “It’s been a long time as an actor since I felt like I was free to create and play, to be irreverent and inappropriate… and a little too loud and make bold choices. I wanted something where I could be bold and explore and not have it fit into something that needed to be sold a certain way.”
Populating the Drama Once Pitt and Jolie Pitt decided that they would portray New York City-based novelist Roland and former dancer Vanessa, the actors/producers began to move their discussions about the characters from the theoretical to the practical. How could they best bring to life the husband and wife who had happened upon this placid coast in the South of France in 1973? What had brought them to the Côte d’Azur, and would they leave stronger than they had arrived…or would they go their separate ways forever?
A couple in the middle of dealing with unimaginable grief, who doesn’t know how to cope, and whose marriage is being greatly tested by it, Roland and Vanessa are still deeply in love with each other. Yet, this relationship has been temporarily derailed by loss, one to which they are reacting quite differently.
Jolie Pitt introduces us to the protagonists: “When you meet them, you assume that Roland is a bully and a drunk. You think he’s quite irritated with Vanessa and focused only on himself and his writing. You also assume that she is focused on the way she looks, doesn’t like people and is above it all. In fact, Vanessa is on prescription medication at a time when most people didn’t know what depression even was. Then, you slowly discover that there is a reason that they are avoiding each other…and a reason that they have a lot of anger. They’ve been sitting on something for a very long time, and they both have never addressed it with each other. They’re in so much pain and take it out on one another. By being aware of and studying other people, it allows them to forget themselves for a bit, and it breaks them open so they rediscover each other.”
The filmmaker is the first to admit it’s a different type of stress when you’re on the other side of the camera. She reflects: “When you’re a director who is also an actress in the film, you have very little sympathy for your own character…at least at first. My first pass in editing was very focused on the other characters, and it took me a while to focus on Vanessa and allow her to be important to me a storyteller. I needed that distance for awhile in order to find her.”
For his part, Pitt relished delving into a character so very different from his previous roles. He explains: “Roland’s trying to figure out his book, and they’ve come to this seaside village for inspiration. I’m sure he’s got visions of Hemingway on his mind, with this locality and characters. But his book ultimately becomes about them and their experiences…as well as the effect that this time and place has had on them, and how they come out the other side.”
As Roland spends time among the locals, working on his book and racking his brain about how to come out on the other side of a torturous time in his marriage, he finds strange comfort in his helplessness. Reflects Pitt: “There is a puzzle in figuring out those things that get in the way of your true feelings about someone, really loving them. A lot of it is past insecurities, wanting something so much that you focus too much on losing it. Then all this is in play.”
Discussing the experience of working with her off-screen husband, Jolie Pitt is characteristically frank: “We have 10 years of history, and it all fed into these performances. It was challenging. I realized that it’s the greatest thing as an artist if you can use all of the intimacy toward your partner, challenge and push each other and fight to make things better. You pull out something from one another that feels very different.”
Constant reminders of the joyous lovers that Vanessa and Roland used to be are Lea and François, young newlyweds who have yet to experience pain and loss and its shattering consequences. They are at the beginning of a marriage, with a hope and possibility at the forefront and a hunger toward one other that currently feels insatiable.
Their neighbors’ effortless joie de vivre charms Roland and Vanessa, but also saddens them. Indeed, our main characters recognize a quality that they once had and are struggling to reclaim. As a new bride, Lea is giddily excited by the idea of belonging to someone and looks to her husband for comfort, guidance and solace. François is just beginning to understand what it means to provide for a partner—to have the responsibility of another person and potentially a family.
What Lea and François’ perception of the Americans’ friendship, and what is actually happening among the quartet, is dramatically different. Pitt explains the characters’ importance in the story: “Roland and Vanessa are searching to get over the hill of grief. Specifically, Roland is searching to reconnect because he is losing her. The neighbors next door are a device, at least momentarily, that allows our characters to start to feel like they’re rebuilding some semblance of who they were.”
French performer Melvil Poupaud, who portrays François, appreciated that By the Sea is a deliberate study in intimacy. He walks us through the setting at the hotel La Moët: “Vanessa and Roland find out that there is a couple next door who is their opposite. There is this ‘l’effet de miroir,’ as we say in French, a ‘mirror effect.’ Lea and François are happy, laughing, have a good time, having sex and enjoying themselves. Both couples spend the same holiday, but they are in a very different place. One is in the middle of a big crisis, and the other is at the beginning of a great story, we hope.”
Poupaud was moved by how rich and interwoven the story was, despite its deceptive languidness. “There is this feeling of laziness; it’s the end of the summer, and not many people are around,” he offers. “It’s the best place to have a very quiet holiday, and that’s when our story happens. I was very surprised when I first read the script, how intimate it was and how free the writing was. I also thought it was so courageous for Angie to explore those issues that every couple faces.”
Portraying his onscreen bride is French actress Mélanie Laurent, who also appeared opposite Pitt in Inglourious Basterds. Poupaud offers insight into his relationship with his co-star: “I am very close with Mélanie, as I have known her for many years. We are close friends, so the scenes we had to do were easy for us. We would show Angie what we had in mind, and she would give us ideas and we would try different things.”
Laurent introduces us to her character: “Lea is full of energy and light, smiling all the time, and has a very naïve perspective on life. When she meets the stylish and elegant Vanessa, she wants to be just like her. As a newlywed, she wants to believe that after 15 years of marriage, anything is still possible.”
Laurent admits that shooting By the Sea felt as if she was performing in a play, not on location. She elaborates: “It’s really something for an actress to be in the same room or café every day and not have scenes all over the place. It felt as if we were playing on a set. We forgot the camera and allowed ourselves just to be actors. When Melvil and I were shooting scenes in our room, the camera was hiding on the wall, so it became the wall. We didn’t see the camera or the crew, so we were essentially alone on set. We forgot everyone and just acted and improvised.” She muses: “I love that Angelina likes her actors to just be free.”
The performer appreciated having an actor’s director playing opposite her. “We had a lot of freedom on set,” Laurent advises. “I was really impressed because Angelina was acting at the same time she was directing. She directs actors like an actress; we speak the same language. She’d ask, ‘Do you need this? Are you comfortable with this, or do you want to talk about that?’”
Two older men who have lost their wives but have found a semblance of peace in that, one through faith and the other through resilience and humor, Michel and Patrice are the story’s final “couple.” Michel, the owner of the hotel café, Chez Michel, has a deep wisdom about relationships that he imparts to Roland, as the writer comes to the restaurant every day to write—and drink. Grieving for his own wife, Michel teaches Roland to accept the past and love Vanessa for the woman she is now. For his part, Patrice, the hotel owner, keeps his pain private and rarely speaks. As Michel says of Patrice, “He never looks back.”
Portrayed by beloved French actor Niels Arestrup, Michel teaches Roland what it is like to love someone for an entire life…and offers the struggling writer fatherly wisdom. The actor appreciated that By the Sea is, in fact, “many difficult love stories.” He explains: “Michel is the owner of the only café around, and that’s where all the characters meet. He is a man who has lived a very intense love story with his wife and is scarred by her recent death and struggling to find a reason to carry on. Nevertheless, he holds onto a very strong religious faith and tries to stand on his feet, carrying on with his business and facing people—despite what is broken inside of him.”
Discussing his director, Arestrup champions that the film is influenced “by Angelina’s heart and her head.” He advises: “It is quite audacious for her to have undertaken this rather nonconformist, experimental project. I think it will be a great surprise for the American as well as European public to discover her doubts, insecurities and fragility, but also her courage and strength to live.” That said, Arestrup feels Jolie Pitt is telling a universally relatable tale. “I believe she has written a story that is simply amazing. Can we feel the same emotion from one side of the ocean to the other? I hope that the answer is yes, and that the public will be sensitive to this escapade.”
Discussing his thoughts on the enterprise, Bohringer appreciates that Jolie Pitt made “an ‘end-of-the-world’ film, one in which the love story takes place, and the search for desire is, at the end of the world.” He reflects: “Michel’s little café is at the end of the world, and so is my character’s hotel; there is something very crepuscular in this. Everyone walks around carrying his own little secrets.”
Bohringer agrees with longtime friend, Arestrup, that their director’s work is nuanced and deft. Of her re-creation of a distinct period set along the Cote d’Azur, he reflects: “It is a love story that tries to revive itself. As a film lover, I must admit that the way Angelina works is quite surprising. She knows where she wants to take us. She is curious; she is on a quest. In the end, the scenario is merely a base upon which she builds. My character, for example, is constructed as we go along. Initially, Patrice is a quiet man, but as the days passed by, she added layers to him and fashioned him. Angelina is not just a director, she is a real filmmaker. I like to differentiate the two. A director is someone who’s got a strict rigor. A filmmaker is a tone, a point of view, which may be achieved technically or psychologically. Angelina works in this very sensitive, intuitive, organic manner.”
Locations and Design By the Sea was shot over the course of nine weeks in the town of Mġarr ix-Xini on the island of Gozo in Malta, with the café and exteriors for the hotel built to overlook the gorgeous harbor. Of the production’s time in the country, Pitt states: “We had this amazing bay in Gozo, which was meant to represent Marseille in France. The Maltese/Gozo government was very kind to give us this access.”
With a set crafted alongside production designer Jon Hutman, with whom she partnered on Unbroken and In the Land of Blood and Honey, Jolie Pitt chose to set the drama in the ’70s because it was an interesting time for politics and art; naturally, that affected everything in the set design. She explains the rationale for selecting the period for her characters: “When I was writing, I thought 1973 was a very interesting time for the world, and a very interesting time creatively.”
Even though the production was lensed in Malta, the set resembles a remote calanque (a steep-walled inlet) in the South of France. While today it would be filled with different kinds of restaurants and tourists, in the ’70s one could still find these kinds of places in the south of the country—with only one little auberge hosting fisherman and tourists mixed together in the same place.
Jolie Pitt felt a great deal of freedom with her chosen period. She reflects: “It’s very clear in modern films where we say, ‘that’s the behavior of the bad person; that’s the behavior of the good one.’ To have an excuse to be able to be ugly and messy in a very adult way—with all those themes around bad behavior—was important to the film. It suits the time as we think it was.”
Pitt laughs, agreeing: “Well, I suppose bad behavior hasn’t stopped, but people were a little more dangerous—and not at all politically correct—back then.”
Laurent reflects on the period and the setting: “There’s something about the sensuality and sex of the early ’70s, and I think that Angie wanted to be far away from modernity to bring something beautiful to the screen. Her character is watching people do the same job here, every day and alone, and that allows her to become easily lost.”
As a microcosm of respite for the world-weary New Yorkers, the South of France provides Vanessa and Roland new energies and opportunities for moments of reflection. Adds Poupaud: “Every day, Vanessa watches through the window the same fisherman going out to sea, trying to make his living. She and Roland start having these symbolic figures surrounding them—from the fisherman to the old man in the café and the young couple full of life.”
With its long, windy roads, steep cliffs, small grocery, intimate café—and gorgeous views of the bay visible from every part of the hotel—the setting in Goza was rewarding for not just the actors, but the craftspeople who designed every aspect of the By the Sea production. There, they were able to transport themselves back to a simpler time and place, one free from the trappings and distractions of modern-day life.
French native Arestrup was impressed by what the design team was able to accomplish, noting: “This place evokes a rather well-known part of the Marseille region called les Calanques. Angelina worked like an impressionist painter, and if the South of France is indeed evoked here, I don’t think the Frenchman of that time should recognize himself here. We are in a somewhat isolated place, and that’s where the two main characters arrive.”
Costumer Ellen Mirojnick, who has designed for films and television of every stripe and period, was responsible for Jolie Pitt’s and Laurent’s stunning Yves Saint Laurent-inspired outfits, while at the same time creating the signature ’70s looks for Pitt and Poupaud. Laurent muses that costumes were very intentionally period-focused: “Vanessa’s mood extends to her character’s clothing. She is wearing clothes from the late ’60s, from a time when she was happier. Perhaps she doesn’t want to move on.”
L’Effet de Miroir:
Cinematography and Lighting The opening line of By the Sea is: “There’s a reason why painters flock to the South of France.” That insight guided Jolie Pitt’s selection of the film’s director of photography, Christian Berger. The cinematographer has long studied the path that light takes, and has developed a lighting system to preserve the beauty of natural light for creative use. This changes the method of working on set, and in this production, it enhanced the period, location and atmosphere.
Jolie Pitt commends the crew’s work: “We had an amazing team of people—from Jon Hutman creating the sets to Christian Berger handling all the lighting and the camera. There is elegance and a beauty to it that allowed us to be even more irreverent and wild, because it has something very grounding. The light system was not invasive in any way. Christian’s system is more intimate. It doesn’t fix all your imperfections, so it leaves you more human.
“There was something about this place in time, as well as the heaviness of the subject matter, that I knew whoever shot it had to take us out of what we know and into a different time,” she continues. “He had to give us something beautiful. I also wanted the film to feel like a play. I wanted us to be able to move anywhere in the room and shoot…and not constantly be lit in a lightbox. Christian has this extraordinary system that uses reflective light. It just feels natural. You don’t know where the light’s coming from, but it’s beautiful.”
Her fellow producer agrees with the assessment. Says Pitt: “His system is unique, and much of his work uses prototypes. Looking at the dailies, I felt a reality to it like you’re in the room with the sun coming in. Because Christian’s system is all about bouncing light and reflecting it in so you get a further distance, you realize what we’ve become accustomed to, on a technical front, is a source light. We buy it and have no problem with it when we watch a film, but seeing a film without this massive source feels much more real.”
Berger’s lighting C-System protects the beauty of natural light and gave Jolie Pitt the ability to create a wide range of atmospheres with a minimum of equipment. This allowed for an uncluttered set, which gave the actors a new freedom within which to work. For the director, the C-System offered a previously unknown flexibility. To change a scene’s lighting during staging took just a matter of minutes.
“Light has to come from a face, a figure, an object, or even a landscape, not from lamps,” Jolie Pitt shares. “In nature, you see light only if it reflects off surfaces in our environment. Christian respects the way light occurs in the real world and has created a system that mimics it most artfully. With less crew required and less time used, the C-System also reduced our power consumption by approximately 7:1. I was extremely happy to know we left a smaller carbon footprint during our shoot.”
Poupaud reflects that this simplicity in lighting extended to the rest of Jolie Pitt’s camera decisions: “What was surprising for me was that Angie would let the camera roll for 10 minutes, and we would improvise before the scene that was written in the script. Then, after we did the scene, she would let the camera roll for five more minutes. For Mélanie and me, it was like living our life, and also because it was so close we didn’t see the camera or crew. We were in that room, so the two of us would smoke, have a drink, fight and argue. It’s a very simple, pure and old-fashioned way of making movies that reminded me of John Cassavetes’ films with Gena Rowland.”
For her part, Laurent felt that these cinematic choices made By the Sea feel even more like a poetic love story. She tells: “The shots are a mix of super sensual, being very close to the skin, and then suddenly, large shots of being so lost, lonely and far away.”
Production wrapped, Jolie Pitt reflects upon the film she and her team created and what she hopes that audiences will take from it. The writer/director of By the Sea concludes: “Grief is a part of life, and one can take pride and comfort in knowing pain and grief and learning how to deal with it. Like the fisherman in the film, sometimes you have to go back and forth through the tides of life.”
ABOUT THE CAST
One of today’s strongest and most versatile film actors, BRAD PITT (Roland) is also a successful film producer with his company Plan B Entertainment.
In the past few years, Pitt won an Academy Award® as a producer of 12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen (the film also won Oscars® for screenwriter John Ridley and supporting actress Lupita Nyong’o); led a five-man tank crew in David Ayer’s World War II epic Fury; plays a supporting role in The Big Short, a film he also produced with his Plan B shingle; and is currently shooting War Machine, a provocative satirical comedy from David Michôd for Netflix.
In 2013, Pitt starred and produced one of the year’s Top 10 grossing movies, World War Z for Paramount Pictures. Following World War Z, Pitt played a supporting role in Ridley Scott’s The Counselor written by Cormac McCarthy. Before World War Z, Pitt played the lead in Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly. This is the second time Pitt has starred in and produced a Dominik film, the first being The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, for which he was named Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival. In 2011, Pitt gave two of his most complex and nuanced performances in Bennett Miller’s Moneyball and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, films he also produced. Pitt won the New York Film Critics Circle Award and the National Society of Film Critics Award for both roles. Additionally, Pitt was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe and British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards, as well as an Academy Award® for his work in Moneyball. The movie also received an Academy Award® Best Picture nomination. Malik won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for The Tree of Life and the film was also nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards®. In previous years, Pitt was an Academy Award® nominee for his performance in David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys, for which he won a Golden Globe Award. Pitt was also a Golden Globe Award nominee for his performances in Edward Zwick’s Legends of the Fall and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel.
In 2009, Pitt starred in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds as Lt. Aldo Raine and, in 2008, appeared in Joel and Ethan Coen’s comedy thriller Burn After Reading. Opposite George Clooney, his Burn After Reading co-star, he also appeared in Steven Soderbergh’s hits Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen.
It was Pitt’s role in Scott’s Academy Award®-winning Thelma and Louise that first brought him national attention. Pitt went on to star in Robert Redford’s Academy Award®-winning A River Runs Through It, Dominic Sena’s Kalifornia and Tony Scott’s True Romance. Pitt also received critical acclaim for his performances in the two David Fincher films: Se7en and Fight Club. His other films include Doug Liman’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith, which was one of 2005’s biggest hits, and Guy Ritchie’s Snatch.
Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment has been responsible for producing numerous award-winning and commercially successful films, including The Departed, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Tree of Life, World War Z, 12 Years a Slave, The Normal Heart and Selma. The company’s forthcoming slate includes The Big Short based on Michael Lewis’ best-selling book and directed by Adam McKay for Paramount Pictures; David Michôd’s War Machine for Netflix; James Gray’s The Lost City of Z, based on David Grann’s best-selling book starring Charlie Hunnam; Lewis and Clark, a limited series for HBO; World War Z 2 to be directed by J.A. Bayona; as well as development with a number of marquee filmmakers and writers in both film and television.
Academy Award® and three-time Golden Globe Award winner ANGELINA JOLIE PITT (Vanessa), is a director, actress, screenwriter and humanitarian who received the 2013 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her work as Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and her wider advocacy on global issues.
In 2011, Jolie Pitt made her feature-film directorial debut with In the Land of Blood and Honey, and in 2014 directed and produced the Oscar®-nominated Unbroken.
Jolie Pitt is currently directing First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, a depiction of the Cambodian genocide through the eyes of a child, and is executive producer on the forthcoming animated feature film set in Afghanistan, The Breadwinner.
Jolie Pitt most recently starred in the title role of Walt Disney Pictures’ Maleficent, based on the studio’s 1959 animated film of the fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty.”
Among Jolie Pitt’s many film credits are Clint Eastwood’s Changeling, which earned her Academy Award®, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award nominations; Phillip Noyce’s action-thriller Salt, Timur Bekmambetov’s fantasy-thriller Wanted,Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf, Michael Winterbottom’s A Mighty Heart, the story of Mariane and Daniel Pearl, Robert De Niro’s The Good Shepherd, Doug Liman’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Oliver Stone’s Alexander.
Jolie Pitt’s additional credits include the Kung Fu Panda franchise;Taking Lives; the action-adventures Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; Martin Campbell’s Beyond Borders, in which she played a United Nations relief worker and Gone in Sixty Seconds.
In 1999, Jolie Pitt won an Academy Award®, a Golden Globe Award, a Broadcast Film Critics’ Award and a SAG Award for Best Supporting Actress, among many other honors, for her performance in James Mangold’s Girl, Interrupted. She also appeared in The Bone Collector, Pushing Tin and Willard Carroll’s Playing by Heart, which garnered her the National Board of Review Award for Breakthrough Performance.
Jolie Pitt won a Golden Globe and SAG award for her performance in Michael Cristofer’s HBO film Gia. She received a Golden Globe Award for her role in John Frankenheimer’s made-for-television film George Wallace.
Jolie Pitt is the first recipient of the UNCA Citizen of the World Award from the United Nations Correspondents Association and received the UNHCR Global Humanitarian Action Award in 2005. In 2007, she joined the nonpartisan think tank Council on Foreign Relations. In 2012 she was appointed Special Envoy to UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. In 2012 she also co-founded the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, which seeks to end the use of rape as a weapon of war and has attracted the support of more than 155 nations. In 2014, at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II conferred upon Jolie Pitt the rank of Honorary Dame Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, for extraordinary services to British foreign policy.
Already well-known for her screen work in her native France, MÉLANIE LAURENT (Lea) came to the attention of the world film community in 2009 through her portrayal of Shosanna Dreyfus in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. With her fellow actors from the film, she shared the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Laurent was also an Empire Award nominee and earned Best Actress citations from the Online Film Critics Society as well as the Austin Film Critics Association.
Laurent has appeared in more than 40 movies. Her film credits include Jennifer Devoldère’s Jusqu’à toi and The Day I Saw Your Heart, the latter with Michel Blanc; Jérôme Le Gris’ Requiem for a Killer; Rose Bosch’s La Rafle, which also starred Jean Reno; Radu Mihaileanu’s The Concert; Cédric Anger’s Le tueur; Cédric Klapisch’s Paris; Rachid Bouchareb’s Cannes award-winning Days of Glory; Jacques Audiard’s The Beat That My Heart Skipped; Michel Blanc’s Summer Things; Frédéric Auburtin and Gérard Depardieu’s The Bridge; and Philippe Lioret’s Don't Worry, I'm Fine, for which she won a César Award (France’s Oscar® equivalent) and a Lumiere Award. Laurent has also been honored with the prestigious Prix Romy Schneider.
In parallel to her French career Melanie continues to play in international movies. Mike Mills’ Beginners, which also starred Ewan McGregor; Louis Leterrier’s Now You See Me; Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy, which also starred Jake Gyllenhaal; Billie August’s Night Train to Lisbon; and Claudia Llosa’s Aloft.
In 2010, Laurent performed on stage for Nicolas Bedos’ Promenade de Santé in which she was nominated for Best Female Newcomer at the Molière Awards.
Laurent wrote and directed the short films À ses pieds and De moins en moins; the latter was showcased at the Cannes International Film Festival. She then directed and starred in The Adopted, from her original screenplay, opposite Denis Menochet.
Her second feature Breathe was selected in Cannes in 2014 and was a critical success.
Film credits of MELVIL POUPAUD (François) include Victoria; Mad Love; Le Grand Jeu; Tête baissée; Fidelio: Alice’s Odyssey; Lines of Wellington; Laurence Anyways; Mysteries of Lisbon; Les faux-monnayeurs; L’orpheline avec en plus un bras en moins; Hideaway; Black Heaven; The Edge; Crime Is Our Business; Lucky Luke; Speed Racer; The Brøken; Un homme perdu; A Christmas Tale; Towards Zero; Broken English; Time to Leave; Le divorce; Eros Therapy; Feelings; Shimkent hôtel; The Dark Room; The Heart’s Root; Le trésor des pirates; A Hell of a Day; Marcel Proust’sTime Regained; Les kidnappeurs; Shooting Stars; Genealogies of a Crime; Le journal d'un séducteur; A Summer's Tale; Three Lives and Only One Death; Fado, Major and Minor; Innocent Lies; Élisa; the television movie La vie de Marianne; Those Were the Days; À la belle étoile; Boulevard Mac Donald; Archipel; Normal People Are Nothing Exceptional; The Lover; The 15 Year Old Girl; The Insomniac on the Bridge; Dans un miroir; Treasure Island and City of Pirates.
NIELS ARESTRUP (Michel) was born in 1949 to a Danish father and a French mother in Montreuil, Seine-Saint-Denis, France.
In his early 20’s, Arestrup began his career in theatre and was taught by some of Europe’s most esteemed acting coaches including Tania Balachova.In 1973, he appeared in his first film Miss O’Gynie et les hommes fleurs and was frequently seen in supporting roles in film and television. Arestrup then began playing lead roles in films such as The Future Is Woman (1984), Foreign City (1988) and Meeting Venus (1991), which also starred Glenn Close.
In 2006, Arestrup won his first César Award (France’s Oscar®) for Best Supporting Actor in Jacques Audiard’s The Beat That My Heart Skipped, which won seven other Césars including Best Film. The following year, Arestrup directed his first feature film The Candidate, which he starred in alongside Yvan Attal and Maurice Bénichou. In 2009, Arestrup reunited with Audiard in the feature film A Prophet, which garnered nine César awards (including Best Film, Best Director and another Best Supporting Actor award for Arestrup). The film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film awards at the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards®. It also won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival of that year.
Arestrup went on to win another Best Supporting Actor César for his work in The French Minister (2013). He is currently the only actor to have won the award three times.
Other notable films of his include the Academy Award®-nominated film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007), which won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film; Sarah’s Key (2010); and War Horse (2011), which was directed by Steven Spielberg and earned 6 Academy Award® nominations, including Best Picture.
Arestrup just finished filming the much anticipated Canal+ TV political drama series, Baron Noir playing the role of the French President.
RICHARD BOHRINGER (Patrice) was born in Moulins, Allier, France. Bohringer is an actor and writer, known for The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989), Subway (1985) and Diva (1981).
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS ANGELINA JOLILE PITT (Written and Directed by/Produced by): SEE ABOVE
BRAD PITT (Produced by): SEE ABOVE
CHRIS BRIGHAM (Executive Producer) began his career as a unit production manager on films such as George Miller’s Lorenzo’s Oil, Fred Schepisi’s Six Degrees of Separation and Neil Jordan’s Interview with the Vampire, which starred Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.
In 1999, Brigham executive produced Harold Ramis’ commercial hit Analyze This which starred Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal and its sequel Analyze That. In 2002, he executive produced Kevin Reynolds’ The Count of Monte Christo.
Brigham went on to executive produce for Martin Scorsese on The Aviator (2004) and Shutter Island (2010); for Robert De Niro on The Good Shepherd (2006) which starred Matt Damon; and for Christopher Nolan on the critically acclaimed box office hit Inception (2010).
Notably, Brigham executive produced Ben Affleck’s Academy Award® winning Argo (2012). Most recently, Brigham executive produced Darren Aronofsky’s Noah (2014).
Brigham is currently working on Ben Affleck’s latest film, Live By Night.
In addition to By the Sea, HOLLY GOLINE-SADOWSKI’s (Executive Producer) film credits include Angelina Jolie Pitt’s Unbroken and In the Land of Blood and Honey.
In addition to By the Sea, MICHAEL VIEIRA’s (Executive Producer) film credits include Angelina Jolie Pitt’s Unbroken and In the Land of Blood and Honey.
CHRISTIAN BERGER (Director of Photography) is a cinematographer, director, producer and writer of numerous documentaries, made-for-TV films and features. Berger has worked as the cinematographer for such renowned directors as Michael Haneke, Luc Bondy, Wolfgang Glück, Stephen Gaghan, Amos Gitai, Peter Sehr, Marie Noelle, János Szász and Angelina Jolie Pitt.
In 2012, Berger was awarded the “Golden Camera 300” for Outstanding Contribution to the World Cinema Art at the Manaki Brothers Film Festival in Bitola, Macedonia. Manaki Brothers is the world’s oldest film festival that pays tribute to the creative work of the cinematographers and celebrates the visual artistic aspects of film.
For his work on The White Ribbon, Berger was nominated for an Academy Award® and was named cinematographer of the year Los Angeles.
Berger was the director and cinematographer for the films Raffl, Hanna Monster, Liebling and Mautplatz.
Berger developed the new Cine Reflect Lighting System (CRLS) in collaboration with Bartenbach Lichtlabor. In addition to creating new esthetic possibilities for the camera, this system gives actors and directors unprecedented flexibility and freedom.
Berger employed this system for the first time to some degree in The Piano Teacher and exclusively used the Cine Reflect Lighting System to shoot the films Dead Man’s Memories, Ne fais pas ça!, Mein Mörder, Hidden, the commercial Mastercard, Disengagement, Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon, Ludwig II, János Szász’s The Notebook as well as By the Sea.
JON HUTMAN (Production Designer) has collaborated with director Angelina Jolie Pitt since her first film, In the Land of Blood and Honey. He received an Art Directors Guild award nomination for his work on Unbroken,before designing By the Sea.
Hutman first worked with Jolie Pitt on The Tourist, directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. His other recent credits include Scott Waugh’s Need for Speed and Adam Shankman’s Rock of Ages. He is currently designing The Mummy, for director Alex Kurtzman.
Hutman collaborated four times with writer/director Nancy Meyers on the films What Women Want, Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday and It’s Complicated. For television, he was honored with both a Primetime Emmy Award and an Art Directors Guild Award for his design on the pilot episode of Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing. Additionally, Hutman produced and directed the series Gideon’s Crossing.
Hutman worked on several of Lawrence Kasdan’s films, serving as production designer and co-producer on Dreamcatcher and Mumford, production designer on French Kiss and art director on I Love You to Death.
Hutman served as production designer on Robert Redford’s The Horse Whisperer, Quiz Show and A River Runs Through It and on Sydney Pollack’s The Interpreter. His other feature-film credits include David McNally’s Coyote Ugly, Adrian Lyne’s Lolita, Michael Apted’s Nell, Steve Kloves’ Flesh and Bone, Arthur Hiller’s Taking Care of Business, Walter Hill’s Trespass, Michael Lehmann’s Meet the Applegates and Jodie Foster’s directorial debut, Little Man Tate. He earned his first credit as a feature-film production designer on Lehmann’s cult favorite Heathers.
Hutman earned a degree in architecture from Yale University, where he also studied scenic design, painting and lighting at the university’s school of drama. He returned to his native Los Angeles and entered the film industry as an assistant in the art department on The Hotel New Hampshire and then as a set dresser on To Live and Die in L.A. Hutman earned art director credits on Wanted: Dead or Alive, Shag: The Movie and Worth Winning, before moving up to design films on his own.
Born in Paris, France in 1956, PATRICIA ROMMEL (Editor) had her breakthrough as an editor for Caroline Link’s Beyond Silence (1996). Further collaborations with Link include Annaluise and Anton (1999), the Oscar®-winning film Nowhere in Africa (2001), A Year Ago in Winter (2008) and Morocco (2013).
Rommel was also responsible for the second German Oscar®-winning film in the last few years, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others (2006). Since then, she has been working on international productions: The Last Station, Jane’s Journey, The Tourist, In the Land of Blood and Honey, Eyes of a Thief, Umrika and Gloria.
Rommel has edited over 50 feature films and television projects. She began her career in the film industry in 1977, doing advertising films and dubbing productions. Since the early ’80s she has been working as a freelance editor, working on features, as well as on documentaries, and has been teaching at several German film schools.
Rommel has received numerous nominations and awards for her work: For Wolfgang Becker’s Life is All You Get (1997) she was nominated for the German Camera Award (Deutscher Kamerapreis), and won it in 2005 for Off Beat (Kammerflimmern). Other film credits include Nina Grosse’s Fire Rider (Feuerreiter) (1997), Franziska Buch’s Emil and the Detectives (2001), Romuald Karmakar’s Nightsongs (2003), Christian Ditter’s French for Beginners (2006). Her television credits include Dominik Graf’s Doktor Knock, Dieter Wedel’s My Old Friend Fritz (Mein alter Freund Fritz) and Maria von Heland’s Suddenly Gina.
In 2009, Rommel received her second nomination for the German Movie Award for Caroline Link’s film A Year Ago in Winter (Im Winter ein Jahr).
MARTIN PENSA (Editor) was nominated for an Academy Award® for Dallas Buyers Club with director and fellow editor Jean-Marc Vallée. He next collaborated with Vallée on the Fox Searchlight film Wild, which starred and was produced by Reese Witherspoon.
Pensa’s collaboration with Vallée started on the filmmaker’s acclaimed Café de Flore, as first assistant editor. On the same movie, Pensa was part of the visual effects team at Fake Studio, with whom he shared a Genie Award, Canada’s Academy Award® equivalent, for Best Achievement in Visual Effects. Pensa and Vallée have also collaborated on commercials.
Drawn to visual arts and music from an early age, Pensa found that film spoke to all of his interests. He began his career as a child actor in Montréal, and dubbed into French the performances of such child actors as Macaulay Culkin and Elijah Wood for their films’ Canadian releases.
In 2002, Pensa began formal studies at the Los Angeles Film School. There, he wrote and directed short films; was the cinematographer on others’ works; and was the editor and sound editor on additional ones. Pensa then returned to Montréal and worked as a director, editor and visual effects artist on short films, music videos and commercials. In 2007, he became an assistant editor at Technicolor and then worked at other post-production studios until becoming a full-time freelance film editor in 2011.
Currently, Pensa is editing Sacha Gervasi’s November Criminals, starring Ansel Elgort and Chloë Grace Moretz.
ELLEN MIROJNICK’s (Costume Designer) creative roots run deep. Born and raised in New York City, her early interests in fine art, photography and fashion led to the prestigious High School of Music and Art. After graduation, she further pursued her study of design at The School of Visual Arts and Parsons School of Design.
Mirojnick entered the world of fashion after Parsons School of Design. Her fashion-forward instincts quickly propelled her to become one of the most sought-after designers in the field. Her talent for creating youthful, au courant style reverberated throughout the industry.
It wasn’t long before Mirojnick set her sights on Hollywood, beginning a career which has spanned three decades. As a preeminent Hollywood costume designer, Mirojnick’s passion for contemporary design has had an impact on motion picture style. Mirojnick’s film work has exhibited a sophisticated and timeless approach to modern storytelling and has yielded iconic characters that have become cultural references.
She has been nominated for British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), Primetime Emmy and Costume Designers Guild (CDG) awards. In 1998, she received a Saturn Award for her work in Starship Troopers and was honored with the Cutty Sark Menswear Award for her sartorial statement in Wall Street.
The list of prominent filmmakers Mirojnick has designed for includes Steven Soderbergh, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, Paul Verhoven, both Tony and Ridley Scott and J.J. Abrams.
In 2010, Mirojnick collaborated with actor James Franco to create images that were included in the art-book “Visionaire No. 59: Fairytale.” Subsequently, Mirojnick joined forces with artist Richard Phillips to create videos that were exhibited at the 2011 Venice Biennale. Thanks to this partnership, Mirojnick continues as an innovator at the crossroads of fashion, art and film.
Mirojnick has lectured at UCLA, the Lincoln Center Film Society, the Directors Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She has been profiled in numerous international fashion publications, as well as on Hollywood Fashion Machine Special Edition: Costume Design. In addition, she is also featured in the design book “Filmcraft” and soon to be published book “Behind the Candelabra.”
Her work has been displayed in the 50 Designers/50 Films exhibit at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Florence Biennale, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising’s 2011, 2012 , 2013 and 2015 Annual Film and Television Exhibits, and the prestigious exhibition Hollywood Costume, originating at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
Mirojnick has received two BAFTA nominations and has won Primetime Emmy and CDG awards for Behind the Candelabra. She was recently nominated by the Costume Designers Guild for the first season of The Knick, which stars Clive Owen. Her work with Soderbergh continued onto season two of The Knick. She is currently working with Angelina Jolie Pitt on her next directorial film.
GABRIEL YARED (Music by) was born in Lebanon in 1949 and lived there for the first 18 years of his life. From age four to 14, he attended a Jesuit boarding school in Beirut where he spent most of his time. Alongside his studies, he taught himself music, practicing on the school organ and reading the repertoire thanks to the musical library of the Jesuits. He was first and foremost a child fascinated by what he heard and was soon determined to learn the techniques of musical composition.
Yared’s commitment to music quickly became a passionate and exclusive one. He spent his entire leisure time expanding his musical knowledge. Thus, at a very tender age, music theory and notes became as natural to him as the alphabet. Yared pursued and nurtured his musical quest by reading the classical works. Although he later on benefited from a more academic education by the great masters, he remains at heart a fervent self-taught musician, always on the trail of a musical ideal, open to all kinds of music.
Since 1980, he has devoted most of his time to composing more than 100 original scores for the movies, and some have even earned him prestigious awards. In 1997, he gained international recognition for Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient for which he received an Academy Award®, a Golden Globe and a Grammy.
Choreographers including Carolyn Carlson, Roland Petit and Wayne McGregor have asked Yared to write music to accompany their choreographies.