Edward Bergeon was inspired by the tragedy of her father for <em>The name of the earth</em>.
July 22, 2020
Updated on July 24, 2020 at 4h07
Edward Bergeon : the wretched of the earth
PARIS — Edouard Bergeon was 16 years old when he found himself at the head of an agricultural holding after the suicide of his father. It will eventually exorcise this trauma by turning a documentary, The sons of the earth (2012), which examines the difficulties of the French peasants. This film will inspire then a feature with Guillaume Canet in the title role. With its two million entries, almost all of which were made in the region, The name of the earth is a phenomenon that has aroused a lot of debates. The Sun has met this ex-journalist of 37 years to discuss the tragedies that have shaken the agricultural world there as here.
Q You have already told the story of your father in a documentary. Why fiction ?
R It is the producer [Christophe Rossignon] who came to pick me up. But when one starts in a field, one is not stronger than when we speak of what we know. This story is inspired by my family, but the reality is much worse and we could be doing a number of films. There are very autobiographical, others less so. This is little story has a universality because it touches on family, interpersonal relationships…
Q The history of your family is emblematic of this shift in the agricultural world and this always happens, these farmers who must become producers of industrial…
R pushing them to it. The loss of identity and pride is huge. By accumulating the fatigue, physical, moral, in addition to coping with the weather, the droughts, the disaster… I wanted to tell three generations who grow up at different times. The grandfather earns money by working hard. The 90’s, it is the market economy, globalization, we are investing more and more, it runs up a debt… It is shown in this film, without wanting to make a film-folder. Everything passes through the human.
Q It remains that it is a committed film.
R Yes. But I have not written it to be like that. Perhaps this is the strength of the film. Because I do not want to give moral lesson. The viewer is not con. The world agriculture is in trouble.
Q Is approached by the band the subject of suicide of farmers in the feature film. In Quebec, there are specialized squads working on the ground to detect warning signs. Is there such a thing in France ?
R Yes, there is Solidarity peasant, an association that was supported with Guillaume. We have donated a day’s receipts of the film upon its release. Its representatives were present at our before-the first [in the summer of 2019].
Q Speaking of William, is this what you had in mind before the shooting ?
R Not. He fell on my documentary on tv and he is so upset he wants to do as a filmmaker. He speaks to my producer, the son of a farmer also, who gets fed up and says to him : “Guillaume, the film is written and it is me who has to produce.” He said : “is it that you have someone to play it? I’m doing it!” He had not even read the script, but it was at the bottom. It is he who has brought me to the physical resemblance of my father. It is said that to play in front of his son, a guy who has already existed, it is necessary that I move closer to his physical. In addition, they look the same…
Q Was it disturbing ?
R Not. It’s been 20 years… It has been much more difficult with The sons of the earth, my documentary, with consequences in my personal life. There was a scenario and actors, so at a distance. I know what is fiction or not. Yes, there were difficult moments during the shooting. [long pause] But I managed well.
Q There is much talk of the father from all time, but, at bottom, this is first and foremost a family history ?
R Yes, I wanted to make a film on this family unit to make the subject more universal. It is the keystone of the film, and then there are the agricultural issues.
Q You come from a documentary, but there you arrive on a plateau with Guillaume Canet, which has seen more and has a whole team… Were you nervous ?
R Not. I freaked out three months before [laughs]. But two, three weeks before, I am very manual, there is something very concrete. But “editor, action”, I had never said that before [laughter]. After 15 days, it took me to do the coup, my film is to return to power because [the technical team] wanted too help me. At the beginning, I didn’t have enough well cut my film. But it happened and I took my walk. I even found the end in the last week of shooting. You fucks 300 metres from the shore, you swim or you recommended. Me, I swim (laughs).
Q there was something that has struck me in watching The name of the earth. I felt that, in spite of the purpose, you wanted to avoid pathos. Is it that I am wrong ?
R It was on the brakes all the time : shooting, play, dialogue, editing… there is such power in history, the incarnation of the word… there is something very down-to-earth, in fact. There is no need to put more.
Q Is-do you think that this modesty is coming to you from your past as the son of a farmer ?
R My docus were already like that. Why seek with tears? The silences, the looks reflect it. My last documentary, it was on three mothers who lost their sons in settlements of accounts in Marseille. It was so strong that there was no need to add more. This docu made me a lot of good. It is necessary to share.
The name of the earth will be presented at the July 31,
The costs of this report have been paid by Unifrance