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Sunday, 22 October 2017

DOCUMENTARY - The struggle of a traditional fisherman for another Europe




John O'Brien, a fisherman from Inishbofin Island, off the west coast of Ireland, is struggling to continue fishing in the style of his ancestors. While European legislation against overfishing threatens the island's only resource, it is bringing the voice of island fishermen to the highest political level for the first time. Loïc Jourdain filmed during eight years this struggle of David against Goliath, narrated in the documentary Of the laws and the men. Chronicle by the association Les Lucioles du Doc.

It is an exceptional trajectory that John O'Brien, a small Irish fisherman who defends traditional fishing in front of the lobby of big trawlers by calling on the technocrats of his country and of Brussels. The native of Inishbofin, Ireland, succeeded in mobilizing the fishermen of his island and the neighboring islands, who suffer from drastic rules against overfishing for which they are not responsible. We then sail with him to the heart of the Irish and Brussels powers. The fisherman must fine-tune his strategy to convince and rally to his cause. Without ever losing its simplicity, it does brilliantly, meeting other European island fishermen and ecologists.

The proximity with the character allows the viewer of the documentary Des lois et des hommes , which comes out on October 11 in the cinema, to understand what is played between these different scales. Through the eyes of John O'Brien, one discovers the vagaries of the European Commission, so focused by the regulations that it forgets the essential: the reality and the specificities of the field. A remark by John illustrates this feature very well: "First of all, Europe has financed enormous trawlers and now, seeing the extent of the damage, it tries to stop overfishing as it can. "


For a global view is not enough to see the absurdity of the consequences of this regulation at the local level. After the ban on salmon fishing in 2007, islanders are forced to fish intensively for herring, which is becoming scarcer and then crab, which they are forced to export to China. An intensive practice contrary to the habits of their ancestors, in harmony with their environment. "Now I ask my sons to do what we have been taught not to do: to fish a single species, until it disappears. My grandfather must turn to his grave ", desolates the native of Inishbofin. He repeated it repeatedly: the fishermen of his island have always respected the cycles of reproduction of the species, fishing according to the seasons, to preserve this essential resource. The human being is not the enemy of nature and the inhabitants of Inishbofin offer us another way of viewing ecology: no longer to preserve nature in itself, but to protect the balance which allows the life of all beings who share a territory.

Without fishing, the islands are depopulated and, like the salmon, the island culture disappears. Guided by the voice of the Irish fisherman, the viewer discovers from within the community and its traditions where festivals and religious rites are organized around the sea. The very strong choice of O'Brien's omnipresent voice-over calm timbre, rhythmic as the ebb and flow, leads us to think of the importance of a word that is both individual and collective. The word of those who are not accustomed to speak, to resist, to be heard. John O'Brien lets his culture be heard and known in institutions to prove how to preserve it. The aesthetics of the documentary gives unconditional support to his demonstration. From the very present Gaelic language to traditional music,

Laws and men strike for its political significance. As a critique of globalization, Loïc Jourdain wants to show another way: respect for ecology, but also for humanity and its traditions, without falling into a backward drift. If heritage is to be preserved, it is because it is the key to a sustainable future for both humans and fauna, where equilibrium would return.

Laws and men , national release on October 11, 2017

Documentary by 106 minutes
Directed by : Loïc Jourdain
Production : Lugh Films
Co-production : Original idea (France), South Wind Blows LTD (Ireland), France 3 Corse Via Stella, Production France 3 & The Irish Film Board
Distribution : Ubuntu Culture & Docks 66

More information about the film: the website .

Les Lucioles du Doc These monthly columns published by Basta! are carried out by the collective of the Lucioles du Doc, an association working on documentary cinema, through its dissemination and the organization of workshops of realization with a large public, in order to set up spaces for popular education policy. See the website of the association.