• 62'
  • Author : Guillaume Barthélémy
  • 20-06-2020
  • Master : 2948


A few days after the lockdown was announced, we decided to take to the roads of France in a campervan to meet the French people. During the three weeks of a 4,000-kilometre journey, we took the pulse of a rural France forced to turn its life upside down, to limit its activities and movements and to reinvent its daily life. We filmed the story of men and women who put their energy and their hearts into carrying on their lives in spite of the threat of Coronavirus. In the East of France, in Mussy-sur-Seine, Jérôme, 42, a funeral director, set up a network of 50 seamstresses to produce masks intended for the residents of his village and regional hospitals. He and his team set themselves the objective of producing 10,000 items in double-quick time: “I know I’m doing the best I can at this moment. I’m giving it all I’ve got and that way, I won’t have any regrets, I will not have waited and done nothing.” Did Jérôme and his team succeed in their wildly ambitious challenge? Hervé, 45, has 35 milking cows in the Lozère. The crisis he’s going through is hard to overcome: the majority of his customers are restaurants that have shut up shop and he can no longer sell his cheese: “We milk our cows and when the tank is full, we empty it, we dump it down the drain. These are images that will remain etched in my memory forever.” How much longer can he hold out without any cash coming in? In Creuilly, in Normandy, Thierry, a country doctor for 35 years, is struggling with what he calls “the secondary effects” of lockdown, the main one of which, according to him, is the loneliness and distress of the village residents. At his side, we travel the countryside, visiting the bedsides of the aged, some of whom exhibit symptoms of severe depression. “It’s total gloom. I think we’re going to have lots of post-traumatic stress in the twelve months following lockdown.”  What with his consultations for suspected cases of Covid and urgent calls from his patients, Thierry’s job has never had greater meaning or importance. The virus hit Laetitia’s family full on. She’s a single mum bringing up her five children in the Grand-Est region of France. Her father died of the disease and she herself was infected. Despite her trials, this Mother Courage, makes insane efforts to make life seem as normal as possible. Even under lockdown, she makes the effort to celebrate her children’s birthdays in worthy style. After 18 years good and faithful service at the head of the town hall in Mont-Saint-Père in the Hauts-de-France, Joseph has been present on every front ever since March 17. Every evening, with his portable sound system, he has been bringing some gaiety and good humour to his constituents as he roams the lanes of his village. Until the day when the death of one of the residents causes him to fear the first case of Covid in this quiet little town: “I didn’t need this. If he died of the virus, I shall be forced to close the village down.”. On the day we came out of lockdown, our campervan went back to see Joseph and Jérôme, but also teachers and shopkeepers, equally impatient and anxious about getting back to a semblance of normal life.

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