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The information brigade
Raoul Coutard Film-maker
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I mean the cameramen sent their rolls of film- so there was a system that was organised by the centre, by the information brigade. So there were two information brigades that worked together, all the more so, as it was the same people working in both. There was the PIS, Press Information Services who were soldiers, and the FIS, French Information Services who were supposed to be civilians, but since there were no civilians it was the same people that did the two, except that in the laboratory there were Vietnamese civilians who belonged to the FIS French Commission's Information Services etc. So that's just administrative stuff. So these two systems operated. So the French soldiers, the film directors, sent their films to Paris. At the time, there were five companies that did news broadcasts. There was the Actualités Françaises, I'll try to find them all, Pathé, Gaumont, Fox Movieton and I don't remember the fifth one- there was another one- well anyway it'll come back to me. There was another one- and so the code was that we sent the documents every month to one of the companies, who was then in charge of duplicating them and giving them to the other four, and every month it changed. Meaning that we sent them to Fox one month, the next month Gaumont had them, etc. Which means that we end up with- Theoretically- and they had to give a copy to the AFU, Army's Film Unit, which they weren't really doing. And which means that for example, we have Indochina War documents, that were filmed by the French Information Services, at Gaumont, at Pathé, etc., even though they shouldn't have them, I mean, theoretically. They should have given them back.
Je veux dire les opérateurs ils envoyaient leurs bobines- Alors il y avait un système qui était organisé par le centre, par le service d'information. Alors il y avait deux services d'information qui travaillaient ensemble, parce que d'autant plus que c'étaient les mêmes dans les deux. Il y avait le SPI, Service Presse Information qui était des militaires, et le SFI, le Service Français d'Information qui était censé être des civils, mais comme il n'y avait pas de civils c'étaient les mêmes qui faisaient les deux trucs, sauf que dans le laboratoire il y avait des civils vietnamiens qui appartenaient au SFI, Service Français d'Information du commissariat, etc. Bon ça ça fait partie des trucs administratifs. Donc ces deux systèmes fonctionnaient. Alors les militaires français, les cinéastes envoyaient leurs pellicules à Paris. A cette époque-là, il y avait cinq maisons qui faisaient des actualités. Il y avait les Actualités Françaises, je vais essayer de les retrouver toutes, Pathé, Gaumont, Fox Movieton et la cinquième je ne sais pas- Il y en avait encore une- Bon enfin peu importe ça me reviendra. Il y en avait encore une- Et alors le code était qu'on envoyait les documents tous les mois à une des boîtes, qui était chargée de dupliquer pour les donner aux quatre autres, et tous les mois ça changeait. C'est-à-dire quand on envoyait à Fox un mois, le mois d'après c'était Gaumont qui les avait, etc. Ce qui fait qu'on se retrouve- Théoriquement- Et ils devaient donner une copie au SCA, Service Cinéma des Armées, ce qu'ils ne faisaient pas vraiment. Et ce qui fait que par exemple on a des documents de la guerre d'Indochine qui ont été tournés par les services d'information français, chez Gaumont, chez Pathé, etc., alors qu'ils ne devraient pas les avoir, je veux dire, théoriquement. Ils auraient du les restituer.

French cinematographer, Raoul Coutard (1924-2016) was twice nominated for the César Award for best cinematography which he won in 1978 for 'Le Crabe-tambour'. He made over 75 films and documentaries, including 'À Bout de Souffle', Le Mépris' and 'Band à Part'. He was the most acclaimed French cinematographer of his generation and one of the key figures of the New Wave.

Listeners: Bernard Cohn

Benard Cohn is a French filmmaker and writer, who has directed five films as well as numerous documentaries and television series. As an assistant director, he worked with many important filmmakers, including Luis Buñuel, François Jacob, Otto Preminger and Woody Allen. He was a founding member of the Ciné-Qua-Non cinema club and has acted as editor and translator for various publications on the world of cinema.

Bernard Cohn est un réalisateur et écrivain français, ayant réalisé cinq film ainsi que de nombreux reportages et séries télévisées. En tant qu'assistant réalisateur, il a travaillé avec plusieurs grands cinéastes, notamment Luis Buñuel, François Truffaut, Otto Preminger et Woody Allen. Il fut membre fondateur du ciné-club Ciné-Qua-Non et a participé à la rédaction et traduction en anglais, de plusieurs ouvrages sur le cinéma.

Duration: 2 minutes, 18 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008