France bestows "Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters" on Scream Producer Marianne Maddalena

Marianne Maddalena speaks at the ceremony at the French Consulate in Los Angeles.

Scream-Thrillogy would like to congratulate Marianne Maddalena, Scream series producer and one of Wes Craven’s closest creative partners and friends for many years, on being awarded the "Ordre des Arts et des Lettres" (in English “Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters”) by the French Consulate in Los Angeles. 

The French government distinction Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) is conferred on “persons who have distinguished themselves by their creativity in the field of art, culture and literature or for their contribution to the influence of arts in France and throughout the world.” Marianne's many contributions to French culture include, for many years, being a sponsor of the American French Film Festival, a festival created and presented by the Franco-American Cultural Fund designed to showcase the diversity of French film, now in its twenty-fifth year.

Marianne produced and creatively contributed to many of Wes Craven’s most iconic films, such as Shocker, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Red Eye, the Scream film series and Academy Award-nominated Music of the Heart with Meryl Streep and famously found the now-iconic Ghostface mask while location scouting weeks before filming started in the original Scream film. Marianne returned to the Scream film franchise as executive producer on Scream (2022) as well as the upcoming sixth installment for Spyglass Entertainment and Paramount Films, filming this summer in Montreal, Canada, and slated for release on March 31st, 2023.

Congratulations Marianne!

The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres Medal

Here's first the full speech of French Consulate Julie Duhat-Bedos who bestowed Marianne the honor followed by Marianne's speech she gave at the ceremony:

Dear members of the Maddalena family, dear Dan and Lisa Dear friends and colleagues of Marianne,

Dear guests,

Bonsoir à toutes et à tous,

Bienvenue à la Résidence de France !

For those who come for the first time to the Résidence de France: this house built at the beginning of the 20th century, it was bought by the French government in the ’90s to be the venue in Los Angeles where we promote, celebrate, and foster the longstanding and beautiful friendship between France and the US.

A warm welcome to all of you.

It is a great pleasure for me and my team to welcome you all this evening to honor a wonderful human being, a friend, a colleague, a sister. I would like to mention our colleague Lucie Carette who couldn’t be with us tonight but who has been instrumental in organizing this event.

Dear Marianne, you have always been very supportive of the projects and events of the French Consulate here in LA. This evening, for once, I hope you will enjoy not being the host – as you have been so often to many of us, but the guest of honor, in recognition of your love for our country and your very strong bond with our culture.

Dear Marianne, before presenting you with the insignia of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, I’d like to take a moment to offer some background on the award itself.

The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres goes back to the 15th century. Luckily for you, knights of this order today no longer have to prove their abilities on a horse or their allegiance to a king. Today, the knights prove themselves with other talents and achievements. The order is intended to reward people who have distinguished themselves by their creations in the artistic or literary field or by the contribution they have made to the influence of the Arts and Letters in France and in the world.

Celebrating you, Marianne, as a pillar of French culture seems obvious when one knows you a bit: you are surrounded by French friends and colleagues / you love a good glass of Bordeaux, and a freshly baked éclair au café / everything in you reminds us of a stylish French woman – everything is French...except your incredible modesty. I have also been told (and I will not quote my source of information) that you have owned 74 different typically French blue and white striped T-shirts – legend or not, that is an impressive count with which even most French people cannot compete with.

Even your first name predestined you to love France– Marianne, a beautiful name and the symbolic figure of the French Republic.

Where does this familiarity with France come from? I think most of our guests would have various answers to that question, but all would agree with me that you are as much a cinephile as you are a Francophile.

Growing up in a large family, your parents passed down an open-mindedness through films. Your brother Dan and your sister Lisa – whom I thank warmly for being here today – surely remember how one day, when you were about 11, you burst into tears in the movie theater because James Bond’s wife, played by Diana Rigg, was killed at the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. 

You were always moved by cinema, and the big screen never got in the way of your admirable empathy. On the contrary, movies became a means for you to connect with people and to share experiences with colleagues and friends. Art can be a declaration of love – as the song “La vie en rose” well epitomizes – and you proved it by participating in the creation of both New York, I love you and Paris, je t’aime, the two romantic anthology films consisting of a compilation of shorts, each by a different director, each set among different boroughs of New York City and Paris, but all related in some way to the subject of love. Such a beautiful example of bridges you have built between our two countries.

Your discovery of art encouraged you to see the world and go live abroad, and your love for France developed thanks to your strong and passionate curiosity, as you are always up for new experiences. Before reaching her twenties, the young Marianne already felt the need to explore the world. Maybe it was because of the globe your parents kept to remind you of the outside world – or was it just a need for new horizons that runs in your blood since your grandfather’s journey from Italy to the United States.

And you chose Cannes (a few kms away from my hometown) as your second home which, since then, you have never abandoned – you are actually going back there very soon for the Cannes Film festival.

I’d like to take a moment to tell the story about your life in France because it says a lot about your personality: you arrived in Cannes to be an au-pair in a French family with whom you are still in contact. Then you became a stewardess on a yacht – which is something you had never done before; and starting from there you found yourself becoming a chef – which you knew even less how to be. Maybe this is when you acquired your refined taste for French cuisine, and your insistence on food of excellent quality when it comes to creating a menu. 

And, as a wink to this past as a Chef in Cannes, our Chef at the Residence, Chef Jean-Claude, has prepared for you specialties of the French Riviera!

In Cannes – our own Hollywood – you met the writer Harold Robbins who offered you a job that started your career in the film industry. The story of how you became a producer explains a lot about your strong independent mind, your determination and curiosity. It also sounds like it came right out of a movie script – there is enough material for a film, don’t you think?

If there was a mythology of filmmakers, you would probably be the Indiana Jones of producers – but in a much more elegant version –: a great adventurer who uncovers legends, just as you discovered the legendary mask of Scream that became such an iconic pop culture reference today.

Your journey with the late director of Scream Wes Craven started when you became his assistant on Deadly Friends in 1986. You and Wes became friends and had a long-time partnership in cinema: you followed him to Haiti to shoot The Serpent and the Rainbow and, through your well-known determination and perseverance, you insisted on producing his movie Shocker, which was a great success. You went on to become Wes Craven’s “guardian angel” as he so fittingly called you.

Your committed and passionate work led you to be nominated at the Film Independent Spirit Awards for Wes Craven’s New Nightmare in 1994. Despite the overwhelming success of Scream in 1996, you always kept your feet on the ground and remained humble and generous.

The beautiful partnership you developed with Wes Craven resulted in the creation of Craven-Maddalena films company, a delightful combination of both your talents. The company produced many films including Music of The Heart in 1999, a critically acclaimed movie that received two Oscar nominations for Meryl Streep as Best Actress and for Best Song for “Music of My Heart.”

Your acute knowledge of cinema combined with your interest in French filmmakers has always been very beneficial for the relationship between French and American filmmakers. / Here is a perfect example of your contribution to the French influence in the United States: in 2003 you discovered a new slasher film, High Tension, by a barely known director at that time, Alexandre Aja. Without any hesitation, you immediately thought of him to direct the adaptation of The Hills Have Eyes. France lost a talented director at that time – but you helped us rediscover him by bringing him to the United States and showing his work to the world. The movie was a huge commercial success when it was released in 2006.

I could go on and on with the list of your achievements, but I would like to emphasize how you keep inspiring people, reminding us that nothing is impossible if you put your heart into it. Your enthusiasm is as contagious as murder is in many of your films - which, by the way, could not be farther from your kind and empathetic personality.

When I asked your friends to describe your personality, the most recurrent word was probably generosity – whether it be in your work life, your personal life, or your general approach to life. You are definitely a guardian angel—one to all of your family members and friends.

On a more personal level, I don't have enough words to say how happy I am that my appointment here as consul general in Los Angeles has allowed me to meet you and to count you among my friends./

Before I officially bestow you with the insignia of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, I have to say that I was struck, as I'm sure some of you were, by how touched and moved you were by the announcement of this nomination. I think it says a lot about your attachment to France and what this award means to you./

Dear Marianne, on behalf of the French government, I would like to thank you for all the support you have given us over the years. You excel in organizing events, including your famous party during the COLCOA French Film Festival, for which you never fail to welcome French professionals in the film industry with the greatest hospitality. You have also recently hosted one of the first resident of our Villa Albertine Los Angeles, the film director Simon Bouisson.

At all times, you give people the opportunity to share their experiences and projects with you and your guests. You have a real ability to create bonds and to open discussions.

It is an honor to recognize you tonight, not only as a Francophile but as an individual precious to the film industry, both for your undying drive and the way that you always bring a humanist touch to the room.

Marianne, you have managed to become both a powerful and a deeply kind woman, and, as such, you are a role model for many people, including me.

Now, it is my great honor to officially bestow upon you the title of Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters.

Marianne Maddalena, au nom de la Ministre de la Culture et de la Communication, je vous fais Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Marianne also spoke at the ceremony, delivering this heartfelt speech to the attendees:

Thank you Madame Julie Duhaut- Bedos, Counsel General, for this incredible award and this magical ceremony. I'm deeply grateful and touched to my soul. I'm not going to downplay this – it is one of the most beautiful things that has ever happened to me. 
Julie, je vous remercie du fond du cœur
pour cet honneur extraordinaire. Je suis 
profondément touchée et reconnaissante.  
Cette récompense  est  l'une des plus belles choses qui
me soit arrivée.


I would also like to thank Lucie Carette, the director of Villa Albertine in Los Angeles and  Gaetan Bruel, the director of French Cultures and Villa Albertine in the US. Both of whom we miss very much tonight. And I would like to thank, Roselyne Bachelot, the French Minister of Culture, and President Emmanuel Macron for this incredible honor. 

I'm THRILLED to be involved with the amazing, vibrant community created by Villa Albertine AND here, at the French Consulate, where Americans and French can share ideas, art, causes, AND make lifelong friends.  I would also like to thank the staff HERE at the consulate for making this night unforgettable.

So. I grew up in Lansing, Michigan, which is about as far from France as you can get. As a young girl, I wanted to see the world, go on adventures, meet new and exciting people, but in the Midwest, those things were few and far between. Then I discovered the MOVIES. 

The movies, where a young person could sit in a darkened theater and experience all that life had to offer. Swashbuckling heroes, exotic locations, and thrilling chases all at my fingertips. I couldn’t help but fall in love. The Godfather, Jaws, Lawrence of Arabia, Butch Cassidy, and the Sundance Kid, I was in heaven.
But in HIGH SCHOOL, my true love came in the form of a new kind of film. The French New Wave: The 400 blows, Breathless, Cleo from 5 to 7. Such artistry changed filmmaking!  And it changed me.....
For the first time, I knew the names of the artists that created these films: Truffaut, Godard, Varda. These were the people that MADE the movies I loved. And I was determined to find a way to make movies as well and to be a part of the creative process. 

I had two goals. To go to France, and to make movies...   So at the tender age of 18, I quit college and found a job as an au pair in France.  Yes, not the advice I would give to ANYONE else at that age. but, for me, thankfully it turned out...  OK!  
The family I worked for were very kind and thanks to them I got to live in Cannes. But it was not a coincidence. I had heard about the film festival and was destined for it. The night I arrived I knew I was in the right place. I knew it was the beginning of something amazing.
 Because of that choice, because of that STEP, because of the kindness, support, endless encouragement of the people of France, ... AND of my own STUBBORN  insistence on my destiny, 
I have, in fact, lived my dream. Not many people can say that, but I can. 
My LA life has been infused with French movies and culture from the start. I am so lucky to have met, worked with, and entertained at my home, so many amazing filmmakers who have brought me so much joy. I have been involved with the Colcoa Film festival for many years and I am so grateful to Francois Truffart and Anoushka van Riel, for bringing me into this community. We miss them too tonight.
I am never happier than sitting around the table with a group of French friends and colleagues. Often I am the only American, and listening to the French STRONGLY critique ALL the latest movies, makes me feel right at home! 
I'm also grateful that the French loved the films Wes and I made; we were invited many times to show our movies in France, and it was always a thrill to see our billboards on the Champs Elysees.
But even more thrilling is to be here, tonight, to be included in the company of legendary Chevalier recipients such as  Audrey Hepburn, T.S. Eliot, Lauren Bacall, Ringo Starr, Stevie Wonder,  David Bowie, Marcel Marceau, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, and Leonardo de Caprio!
Of course, my American friends are a bit confused by this award when I tell them about it...

   They ask -wait,  So are you like a Dame?
   I explain  -      No, I'm a Chevalier!

 - Like Maurice Chevalier ? 
 - No, like a knight -  In France it's called a chevalier! I am being knighted by France!

 -Wow,  Do you get to wear a sash?

-perhaps you're thinking of Napoleon!

The honour does however include this medal but you're ACTUALLY  not supposed to wear it all the time, only on very special occasions! For daily use, there is a very discreet (and very French) green lapel pin. 

Although! Another legendary Chevalier, Tony Curtis, proudly wore his medal every day for 3 years, as everyone was too frightened to tell him!

And so, I stand before you humbled by the honor you have bestowed upon me. This award means so much to me because it acknowledges the value of creativity and the importance of storytelling in our everyday life. 

Movies unite people in joy, sorrow,   grief,  laughter and, as in my case, changed the course of what I dare say, could have been a life not lived to the fullest. 
I'm grateful to my Family...   and to my Friends,  for your constant love and support. I am grateful to artists, filmmakers, and THE dreamers for showing me a life lived fully. I am always and forever grateful to the country of France and the incredible French people.
And in the spirit of Tony Curtis, I will also wear my medal every day for at least three years! 

And maybe even a sash!

   Merci a VOUS  Tous!!!!!. .... Thanks everyone for coming!
Ryan Hills

Ryan Hills is a contributor and writer for Scream-Thrillogy as well as administrator for the largest online Scream collecting group, Scream & Ghostface Collectors on Facebook.instagram

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