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The Stoning of Saint Stephen

La Lapidation de Saint Étienne

A brutal study of a defiant father’s conflict with his only daughter, grounded in a memorable central performance by Lou Castel.

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  • Director Pere Vilà Barceló
  • Producer Lluís Miñarro, David Pérez, Elisabeth Pawlowski
  • Screenwriter Pere Vilà Barceló, Laura Merino
  • With Lou Castel, Marie Payen, Luis Rego
  • Spain-France 2012
  • 80 mins
  • Sales Media Luna New Films

Étienne is a reclusive, elderly furniture restorer who lies alone in his ramshackle apartment. His relationship with his surviving daughter has deteriorated to the point where she can only address him through insults, and is maliciously trying to get him evicted from the apartment. The camera follows him at work, painstakingly attending to his wooden statues and chairs while the ghosts of his now-dead wife and other daughter haunt his abode and stop him from moving on. From Catalan director Pere Vilà Barceló, whose first feature Railroad Crossing screened at the LFF in 2008, comes an austere, almost Bressonian French-language study of a family in conflict. The extreme positions adopted by both father and daughter are shocking in their steadfastness. The result is a brutal retelling of St Stephen’s martyrdom, grounded in a defiant central performance by Lou Castel.
Maria Delgado

Director statement

The Stoning of Saint Stephen is a contemporary hagiographical account that chronicles the last days of Étienne, old and sick, who has to face both the rebukes of his personal environment and his own moral doubts. His lonely life goes through a rigorous daily routine marked by rituals and small details that fill his life with meaning and also takes care of his battered body that seems increasingly difficult to repair. With a high social component but also symbolic, there is a clash between an external world, full of disbelief and contempt for the life of the elderly, and the interior of his apartment that seems to come alive through him. The film is structured through the most significant events of the last days of Étienne, as if it were a medieval altarpiece describes the story of martyrdom today. Merging the real with the supernatural, the characters in the film live in perpetual contradiction and are conditioned by pain, guilt and remorse as the axes of their lives. The pain that brings the mysterious character inherited from his mother to survive the horror of the Nazi extermination, the guilt Étienne feels for not being able to save the lives of Julie, his sick daughter, and his wife Sophie, and finally the pangs of Jeanne who feels like an abandoned child. Feelings, on the other hand, that do not preclude the end of a miracle.
Pere Vilà Barceló

Director biography

Born in Girona in 1975. Having studied screenwriting in Barcelona with the Catalan director Joaquim Jordà, he began as a director with the short film Fishes of the River Leteo, which won the Elsa Peretti Foundation award, a key contribution towards his first feature, Railroad Crossing, which played in the LFF in 2007. While still working on shorts, documentaries and other art projects, he commenced production in 2011 on his second feature, La Lapidation de Saint Étienne.

Filmography

2005 Els peixos del riu Leteo (Fishes of the River Leteo) [s]; Sabi [s]
2006 Drunkenness
2007 From the Balcony [s]; Pas a nivell (Railroad Crossing)
2008 Soldats Anònims [doc s; co-d]; Origen [doc s]
2012 La Lapidation de Saint Étienne (The Stoning of Saint Stephen)

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