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Gilbert Pémendrant, 77 years of age, the king of La Fuste (as his farm is called), the lord of Bernifal (his painted cave), has been honoured by the jury of the International Festival of Archaeology Films in Nyon, where the film Sophie Cattoire made about him (“Le Dernier Paysan Préhistorien”) received a prize in the form of an “Oscar” carved out of Swiss granite. Marvellous! Just as heavy and just as unique were the carved stone awards given to Frédéric Wibler and Salhéa Gherdane for their film “Crépuscule des civilisations : Angkor la civilisation engloutie” (prize for the best archaeology film), Iossif Pasternak for his film “Les secrets du trésor de Priam” (special prize of the jury and audience award) and David Geoffroy for his film “Quand les Gaulois perdaient la tête” (rewarded for its educational value)… not forgetting the three special mentions given to Paul Rambaud and Claude Delhaye for their film “Une dame, des pierres, des hommes”, Rob Hope for his film “Descente : un passage à travers le temps” and Raymond Collet for “Photographier l’invisible”. A splendid palmares… and a fine creative team, in search of meaningfulness and knowledge in a world suffering from amnesia where everything moves too fast: a fine bunch of individuals for whom the magic words are “take your time”, “make it your own” and “treasure each moment - all together”.


Showing the invisible and making silence speak, leaning on information gleaned from infinitesimally small fragments that have many a tale to tell… that is the challenge in historical documentaries, said the Italian filmmaker and producer, Adolfo Conti, as he presided over the closing ceremony of the festival at the” Usine à Gaz”: the place to be for art in Nyon, a town situated on the banks of Lake Geneva, between Geneva and Lausanne. Actually, it’s quite a tricky job… but one whale of an adventure! The “image specialists” can have a ball, while continuing to observe a humble and rigorous approach to our History (recorded in writing) and our Prehistory, valiantly going back millions of years. For the temptation is there to make our finds say what we want them to say, to be in line with prevailing ways of thinking, current ideologies and beliefs. But in archaeology it is not a matter of finding what you expect to find… you find what there is to find - and you have to be thankful. If all this searching strikes a chord within us, I believe it is because we still have, somewhere at the back of our minds, memories of what we used to be, at the beginning of time. These memories give us strength and make us proud; they are our anchor; they give us the guts to fight and carry on.


It was a great honour to be invited to Nyon to receive a prize for « Le Dernier Paysan Préhistorian », the film shot in the Périgord and which seeks to render the spirit of a country, the spirit and soul of a man passionately attached to his roots which, thanks to our Magdalenian ancestors, were bequeathed to him in the prodigious form of a painted cave: Bernifal. The public, the members of the jury and the festival organizers, led by Christophe Goumand, gave me a warm and unostentatious welcome… truly unforgettable! As film director, I was deeply moved by this token of appreciation. For me, making films about prehistory with characters who are profoundly attached to our “Grand passé” gives me the chance to observe the way Man has changed with the times over millions of years. It is a message of hope and fraternity, for everywhere here on earth there are wonderful people who make our lives worth living. And if we want to show archaeologists digging for information 20,000 years hence what our present-day world is like, we must bring to the foreground people such as Gilbert Pémendrant, people who literally glow with kindness and generosity. Here is the list of prizewinners at this eighth festival. The jury consisted of: Adolfo Conti, filmmaker and documentary film producer in Italy, Erige Sehiri, filmmaker and freelance journalist in Tunisia, Philippe Curdy, archaeologist, curator of the Historical Museum in Sion in the Swiss canton of Valais, Denis Weidman, archaeologist in the canton of Vaud and Maria Longhena, Americanist archaeologist, director of the “Storia del Passato” festival in Bologna. But, coming back to Gilbert, our real-life hero… here‘s where you can make his acquaintance:


  • « Soirée CINÉ RENCONTRE » at the Cinéma Lux in Le Buisson de Cadouin
    Sunday, April 28 - 8.30 p.m.

  • “Nuit du Film d’Archéologie” at the Musée et Centre de Recherches in Bibracte, Morvan
    Wednesday, 24 July 2013.

  • Screening at the « Paléosite » in Saint-Césaire, Charente Maritime
    Friday, 27 September 2013.


I’ll be there too.
Looking forward to seeing you again.


Sophie Cattoire


Translated into English by Valérie Saraben


Festival du Film d’Archéologie in Nyon :
A unique Festival in Switzerland


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