French journalists want to speak to local people on Brexit and the border

French film-makers Laurent Gontier and Elisabeth Blanchet will be in Derry next weekend and want to talk to local people.
French film-makers Laurent Gontier and Elisabeth Blanchet will be in Derry next weekend and want to talk to local people.

Two French journalists are seeking to make contact with people living along the Derry-Donegal border to gather testimonies for a project documenting the impact of Brexit here.

Laurent Gontier and Elisabeth Blanchet will be arriving in Derry and Donegal next weekend, July 14 to 16, and are hopeful local people will get in contact with them in advance for their ‘We Need To Talk About the Border’ documentary project.

The duo plan to create a website with an online map of the border dotted with the testimonies of people lvining ind ifferent areas on either side, as well as produce a book detailing the complex issues facing people here as a result of the vote to leave the European Union back in 2016.

Elisabeth and Laurent plan to record people’s thoughts, projects, expectations, hopes and fears about the post-Brexit borderlands.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ this week, Laurent, who is familiar with Ireland and has previously written tourism guidebooks about the country, said they wanted to speak to ordinary people who normally don’t have the same opportunity to share their opinions.

“Politicians already have the audience and we think normal people don’t have access to that,” he said.

“We are looking for people to meet who have stories to tell about the border.

“We are coming to Ireland as fellow members of the European Community to talk to people about Brexit and the issues around the border.

“We want to gather testimonies amd memories about the border, hopes, fears and any plans people may have.”

Laurent said that the impact of Brexit in Ireland was very much a French and indeed a European, issue, as this will not only impact the European Community and sense of identity, but also could happen elsewhere.

He said there were concerns beyond Ireland that there seems to be no plans or solutions in place over the Irish border two years on from the ‘Leave campaign’ victory in the UK Referendum and that “people around the border don’t know what will happen to them”.

“This is a European matter and when you look at history we have been together for a long time so this is like meeting old friends and being concerned about their future.

“If possible we would be happy to gather all these voices and give them to the rest of the population in Ireland and the rest of Europe.

“What happens in Ireland now can teach us what the stakes are.”

Elisabeth and Laurent are also hopeful that they can borrow an authentic or replica Border Customs sign to place along the border as they document the impact.

Laurent and Elisabeth will spend two weeks in Ireland during their trip and plan to return for an extended stay to develop the project further over the coming months.

Anyone with stories to tell can get in touch with Laurent and Elisabeth via the ‘We Need To Talk About The Border’ Facebook page or via www.twitter.com/WeNeedToTalkAb4 and www.instagram.com/weneedtotalkabouttheborder