Initially specialized in the distribution of short-format fiction, CALT Distribution (a subsidiary of the group Robin & Co) has, through its sister company, HOPE Production, developed the distribution of the majority of Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s documentary films. The great photographer turned his hand to directing over 10 years ago. Today he remains at the vanguard concerning questions of preserving our planet, as he shares with strength and sensitivity in his latest film: Legacy, the international version of which is narrated by Sting.

The Interview

Adding to the Legacy of Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Unifrance: Legacy is a documentary film in which YAB sounds the alarm…

Lucile Avezard

Lucile Avezard, Head of International at CALT Distribution: Legacy undoubtedly seeks to convey a message. With great emotion, Yann Arthus-Bertrand is raising the alarm regarding the threat to our planet and to the humans who have not taken care of it. Until the arrival of a certain virus that has changed all our lives…

Far from making accusations, his perspective and the impressive images he offers are a stock-take that looks at alternative solutions and gives a voice to future generations. All that within a very personal testimonial in a context in which the need for action is urgent.

Florent Gilard

Florent Gilard, Producer at HOPE Production : The film is also the result of Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s nearly 40 years of engagement. It is above all a film by a human being and a grandfather who is worried by what he is hearing and seeing. By telling the great story of the Earth, of life and human beings, he helps us understand what’s at stake and our responsibilities. The film looks at the world with open eyes. The narration is very important for Yann. Starting from the beginning of the Earth’s story helps us realize what has led us to the current situation. The objective is to prompt awareness and, we hope, push people to take responsibility for implementing the actions that result from this new awareness.

Unifrance: Did you encounter any issues making the documentary? Do you have any anecdotes to share?

Florent Gilard: The hardest part of making this film was the writing and editing!

Right from the start, we decided to use the library of aerial images that Yann already shot for previous films – to reduce our CO2 emissions – and to add only new recent images that were unavailable. We organized just a few shootings using drones and local operators in a dozen or so locations throughout the world. From a technical and production perspective, it was not a complicated film to make.

However, respecting Yann’s wish to make a hard-hitting film that shows the seriousness of the current environmental and climate situation all the while embarking the viewer on a journey and making them responsible players without risking rejection was very complex.

We should mention Franck Courchamp on this point, a researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research. He wrote the text with Yann, creating something that is rich in information but which remains a great and beautiful story, that of life of Earth and the humans that take up rather too much space on it.

One really memorable moment was at the end of production, during a screening of one of his other films, Woman. Yann and I left the screening room to go and work on the text at the end of the film when Yann talks directly to the camera. We were working on this important text, trying to find the right words. Then we read it back and both burst into tears when we heard what was said and what is basically the story of the end of the planet as we know it. We are in it. We filmed that sequence the following week.

Unifrance: Since the message is universal, will Legacy be sold internationally? French viewer figures have already been positive…

Lucile Avezard: In France, the film was broadcast on M6, which chose Legacy for the prime slot within its “Green week”, which was held across all M6 group channels. The film was a resounding success and the leader among under -35s.

Our team is confident that the strength of the images and the subject of Legacy will have an impact and find international resonance, like many of YAB’s previous films. He doesn’t concentrate on any one part of the world but tries to show its full diversity.  

We initially concentrated on European countries during the Rendez-Vous de Biarritz, but MIPCOM will provide an opportunity to broaden our horizons and discuss the film with broadcasters from around the world.

Unifrance: Even more so since the international version is narrated by Sting…

Lucile Avezard: We are delighted that the singer Sting lent us his voice for the English version of the film – it adds to the prestige of the film as he is a very vocal advocate for the protection of our planet. His distinctive voice adds new energy and takes the film beyond French-speaking borders. 

Florent Gilard: Sting’s involvement was a huge stroke of luck as he has been engaged in this fight for years now. It was important to use to find a celebrity who could convey our message with conviction.

His participation was even more surprising as after we showed him the film and gave him the script – thinking it was just to read – three days later his team contacted me to say that the narration had already been recorded before he had even agreed to do it or we had discussed conditions! 

We were rather stressed as we hadn’t been able to follow or work with him on the recording of the text, but he is so talented, it was just perfect. We owe him our thanks! 

Unifrance: Are there any other YAB documentaries coming out soon?

Florent Gilard: Yes, we have lots of great new projects in the pipeline.

For example, we are preparing a 90-minute prime and a 52-minute feature for France 2.

This film, called Vivant, will tell the magical tale of all that is alive around us. Filmed entirely in France, and using the images of people who are passionate about the topic, the film will create wonder and promote understanding. The 52-minute format will offer the opportunity to understand how these images are filmed and hear from passionate people about their love of biodiversity and their worries about its erosion.

Another project, France, une histoire d’Amour, is a cinematic feature film that Yann is co-directing with Michael Pitiot. It is a documentary road movie moving through the France of the French people, which Yann loves. He will set off to take snapshots of the country and the picture drawn will be tender and loving.

We have other projects in progress – we’ll tell you more soon!

Unifrance: What’s in the pipeline for CALT Distribution?

Lucile Avezard: In addition to the documentary activity that we are proud to work on, we continue to give pride of place to that which makes our group special: our diversified catalog built on in-house productions of all kinds: fiction, cinema, performing arts, etc.

Since the success of Caméra Café and Kaamelott, we have concentrated our work on local adaptations of both series and feature-length films, but also on sales of ready-made content and, of course, strong documentaries like Legacy.

Crystal formation on Lake Magadi, Kenya (1°52’ S – 36°17’ E).