JULIE SCHROELL

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"De Bauereblues", documentary, 72', Luxembourg, prod. CNA, SAMSA Film, 2011

 

In the last 150 years luxembourgish agricultural production has changed beyond recognition, with a fall in employment of over 60%.

With this decline as a backdrop, Julie Schroell set out to track down the last remaining farmers in the country,
to discover who they are, how they work now and how they are adapting to the rapidly changing world around them.

From the Oesling to the Gutland, through the villages of Niederfeulen, Vianden, Urspelt and Eppeldorf, the film explores contemporary approaches towards farming and uncovers a microworld of hardworking people and fascinating stories behind modern agriculture.

We meet Mathieu, head of an enterprise of 20 workers dealing with 500 cattle, Gilbert, who runs a small farm of 20 cows, Jean-Louis' organic farm and Romain's huge pig farm, where over 9000 pigs are sold every year.

Large or small, all face challenging times in the modern mechanised market. The film shows how, within several decades, the country has moved from an agriculture of subsistence to one reliant on high tech production; and from an agrarian society to a highly consumerist one, with people entirely disconnected from agricultural production. The affects of industrialisation, the EU's subsidy policy, the food scandals and the rise of organic farming are also explored.

Over the course of the film, Schroell strikes up a strong bond with the farmers and discovers how the reality of their everyday working lives is far removed from both romantic ideas society has of them and negative portrayals of their lifestyle in the media.