AUZAT, A FRENCH REMOTE VILLAGE
This film is long length documentary which aims to immerse viewers in the life of a small village in the Auvergne region of central France. The film takes viewers on a journey to meet the inhabitants of this evolving rural community and to learn about their lives.
At the more general level, the film shows how rural communities have had to adapt to various economic, cultural and social changes.
Places exist where we can escape from the pressures of life, where the pace of life seems to slow down and where we can recharge our batteries and enjoy and appreciate the important things in life. These places are places which are not affected by mass tourism. These ‘green oases’ are the hamlets and villages of rural France of which there are many but about which little is known and little has been published. The economic and social balance of these places is often fragile, with their existence being a slim thread held together by the inhabitants who bring these places to life. But who are these inhabitants? Where do they come from? How do they live? What does the future hold for them? How are their lives evolving? Despite the peace and calm of rural life, the inhabitants of Auzat, like those living in other rural hamlets and villages, have been forced to adapt to various social, economic and cultural changes. Rural life has not stood still but has evolved, and is continuing to evolve, to meet these changes. This film about Auzat, while dealing with the daily lives of its inhabitants, also raises a range of wider issues, for instance about the environment, farming, employment, history, heritage, and culture etc.
A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY
This film is an invitation to go on a journey of discovery, just as I did by making this film.
I live and work in Paris which is densely populated and where the pace of life is frantic and frenetic. One day in 2015 I suddenly had the urge to escape this hectic environment and return to Auzat to rediscover the magic and peace of the place where I had spent some of my childhood. My grandfather, an Auvergnat, had filmed the village and its inhabitants in the 1960s and so, like him, but some 50 years later, I travelled, camera in hand, to discover what Auzat could tell me and others about rural life in deepest France.
One does not travel in the Himalayas without having a good sherpa, and so I decided that Bernard Mouttet, a now retired peasant farmer respected by the locals and a native of this area, would be the ideal guide for this return to the country. He will be our host. On our wanderings we will also meet other faces that bring life to Auzat.
When I arrived, however, I was somewhat shocked to discover that Auzat had changed. It was not the place I had known when I was younger. Certainly, it was still a peaceful place away from the busy world, but it had changed in many different ways. For instance, I learned that a sewage treatment plant had been built using a modern and environmentally friendly system of reed bed filtration, which would help keep clean the River Allier which flows in the valley below Auzat. I also learned, for example, that, for the first time, a woman had been elected mayor, that an artist had taken up residence, and that a popular festival, the annual descent of the OFNI (Unidentified Floating Objects), was celebrating its 36th anniversary. A new vineyard had also been established where the community of communes employed young people to tend the vines as part of scheme to insert them back into society. I also met an English couple, keen supporters of the local heritage, and Richard, a new arrival to the village who had had a house built overlooking the Allier and who wished to establish his roots there.
This film is the product of my visits to this village of my childhood, a film which viewers can immerse themselves in and get to know some of the inhabitants of Auzat and the lives they lead.
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THE LIKELY AUDIENCE
The film will attract a wide range of viewers whether or not they are interested in the Auvergne and whether or not they know where it is on the map. It will, in particular, attract viewers who are interested in rural life and those who wish to learn about what goes on in rural communities in deepest France.
AUZAT ET ITS INHABITANTS !
The film contains neither commentary nor narrative. The director is not visible in the film. Only the inhabitants of Auzat are in the limelight as are the images of nature and the farm animals that are part of village life. The linking thread in the film is in the form of Bernard Mouttet, a local farmer, now retired, who acts as a link between village life in the past and village life today.
THE DIRECTOR : WHO I AM?
Having parents from rural France (my mother from the Berrichonne, an area of central France near Bourges, and my father from the Auvergne), I have always been interested in and familiar with rural life. For the past 10 years or so, however, I have been working for an independent Paris-based audiovisual production company which specialises in documentary production. My interest in nature and my rural roots alongside with my professional experience in distribution and publishing have fostered in me a keen interest in the world around me. Passionate about capturing and recording ‘real life’, I decided to engage on this project about a small village in the Auvergne. I started shooting in the Spring of 2015. My approach to filming has been personal and solitary. Being alone behind the camera has enabled me to immerse myself more deeply in the daily lives of the inhabitants. The more I filmed the more I realized the richness of what I was given to see and to listen to. That's what I want to share. As the project progressed I was able to gain valuable advice from my friends and editors. In order to promote the film, however, it will necessary to raise financial assistance which I propose to do by ‘crowdfunding’.