In 2012, Yves Jeuland trained his camera on the political section of the French newspaper Le Monde. For three months, the documentary filmmaker set out to capture the breathless work of the journalists covering the presidential election campaign. Les Gens du Monde tells the story of his extraordinary journey into the heart of this legendary French news machine.
Photo from the film © RR
I didn’t want to make a film about the presidential campaign. It’s only there to provide a context for the journalists’ work. The point of filming a presidential campaign was to catch them working at full stretch. The election campaign was also a guarantee that they would forget all about the camera.
I wanted to discover the inner workings of a news machine. Unlike in Le Président (2010) – a documentary on Georges Frêche – I found myself up against a whole team of people. So I proceeded step-by-step. I watched, I observed, I built up my narrative and discovered the ‘key players’ as I went along. The choices were not based on their positions within the editorial team.
Absolutely. That’s why we also changed the title. The film was to be called Ainsi va Le Monde (The Way of Le Monde. ‘Le Monde’ means ‘The World’ in French), but we realised that Les Gens du Monde (The People of the World) sounded better because essentially it’s a film about men and women.
That the rhythm of work can be dizzying. More than ever before it’s all about immediacy. You have to keep feeding those blogs, ‘lives’, and tweets ... It simply never stops. It was this exhausting rhythm I sought to capture by filming the presidential campaign. I wasn’t disappointed.
What I liked was the encounter, the discovery. I also make archive films and even in the realities of the past, it’s the face-to-face element that intrigues me. I also like to tell stories and build up a narrative. Remember that documentaries are still cinema. My aim is never just to tackle the subject. Documentaries give you a certain freedom – you can liberate yourself from certain constraints, particularly those of time, and cheat without deceiving.
Interview by Benoit Pavan
Tuesday 20th May / Buñuel Theatre / 8 p.m.