The story of French migrant activist, Cedric Herrou, has been made into a documentary film titled "Libre." The militant farmer said he does not feel like a hero, and that we must stay human in the face of the migratory situation, despite everything.
Cedric Herrou, a 38-year-old French farmer in the province of Nice, is a symbol for the many undocumented migrant men, women, and children who pass through his farm on their journey after crossing the Italian border into France. In addition to their sea journey, migrants also face a difficult trip on land. The militant farmer in the town of Breil-sur-Roya has been taking action for some years now. Those who pass through his property in Provence, which has become an improvised campground, receive hospitality, shelter, food, and comfort.
French director and actor Michel Toesca has made a documentary film titled "Libre" about Herrou's story. The film will be released soon with Wonder Pictures and will have its Italian premiere in Bologna at the Biografilm Festival on June 20, on the occasion of World Refugee Day.
"Liberty, equality, fraternity" for all
Cedric Herrou is well known. Last summer France sentenced him to four months in jail for having helped about 200 migrants cross the border into France from the Italian town of Ventimiglia. The world of activists from the "No Borders" movement mobilised in support of him. In his appeal, he accused the French prefecture of violating the right to asylum.
"The French motto 'liberty, equality, fraternity', no matter what our origin, our religion, the color of our skin; it's important to defend it every day," Herrou told ANSA in an interview. "It's not just a slogan. It must be lived every day," he said.
The activist isn't the only citizen risking a conviction for this reason, but he is certainly among the most recognisable. At the recent Cannes Film Festival, his walk along the Croisette was worthy of a film star, made even more important given the fact that beyond the sequins of the South of France, there's an entire other world to get to know.
Staying human above all else
Herrou, who owes his fame to a 2015 New York Times story on the area by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Adam Nossiter, believes one must stay human above all else.
"I welcome dozens of unaccompanied minors. They shouldn't have to enter secretly with all the risks. I will continue to believe this, even though I'm considered an outlaw," he said.
Herrou was also a part of the production of Nice-born director Toesca's film, along with the NGOs Emmaus and Doctors of the World. The documentary portrays everyday life on Herrou's farm, where he would be growing olives if it weren't for the fact that the land he owns is at a border where dozens of migrants, mostly African, attempt to enter France and are forcefully pushed back.
"I don't feel like a hero. I don't think I'm doing anything extraordinary. I'm just following the French motto and I feel absolutely common," Herrou said. "Only perhaps I feel more determined in my civil disobedience," he said.