In Saint-Nazaire, a city with a hand-to-mouth economy, people from very different walks of life have donned the bright yellow high-vis jackets that came to symbolise an unexpected revolution in the winter of 2018.
For five months, they occupied an abandoned sub-prefecture where they experienced the power of collective action with, at times, its deadlocks, as well as the joy of rediscovered brother-and sisterhood in a movement fuelled by anger.
Something’s going on, we should be there.
It seems that it’s the same movement that spurs Kyllian and Esperanza to join the others on the roundabouts, and Arthur and François to film Saint-Nazaire’s community centre. For the seasoned union campaigner and the teenager who’s fed up with all the difficulties, the Yellow Jacket movement has reshuffled the cards of activism.
The directors remind us in images that living and struggling with others is a learning process, and that the Yellow Jackets have restored a very tangible dimension to the tired notion of living together.
From the rumblings of revolt to political education, the film’s strength lies in its portrayal of the journey of this community that forms, transforming the people who are part of it. And like Kylian, we feel that whatever happens now, all is not lost.
Tënk's Head of production
Born in Lorient in Brittany and a Breton speaker, Arthur Thouvenin trained in journalism at the IUT in Lannion before turning his hand to documentary writing and directing with an excellent professional degree course that no longer exists at the University of Nantes. It was there that his first documentary saw the light of day, co-directed with Marion Thiriat and Myriam Grupallo, about the lives of the Roma people in Nantes. He then worked as a journalist and sub-editor for the local press and as a translator for Breton-language programmes for France 3 Bretagne. His life and career have been dotted with associative and political activism, which naturally led him to focus his attention on the “Yellow Jacket” revolt, particularly the extraordinary adventure that played out in Saint-Nazaire. With François Langlais, they wanted to follow up this encounter that took place as the movement was in its infancy and, in the emergency that such this, the desire to film their bold tale took root.
Starting out as a self-taught photographer, François Langlais began his career with silver halide portraits. To take his art further, he decided to train in video production. In 2012, he graduated as an audio-visual technician from the ESRA Bretagne and was co-founder of Ronin Production, a company he worked with for five years making numerous musical video clips, reports and commissioned films. In 2016, he started working as a cameraman for several television channels, and gradually turned to documentary directing. He directed several portraits alone and with Sidney Vienne, and edited the documentary “Extra Muros”. In December 2018, as the Yellow Jacket movement began to gather momentum, he decided to team up with Arthur Thouvenin to co-direct their first feature documentary.