These memories must be "destroyed". That was the thought that would start a work of love for Richard M. Berrong, a professor at Kent State University: documenting the memories of those who lived in Brittany during the Second World War.
"I've been editing videos for years," said Berrong, who lives in Cuyahoga Falls and teaches French at Kent State. "I had been to this region of Brittany for five years, and I knew many people, including those who lived through the Second World War."
Over the course of a month, Berrong said he interviewed between 15 and 20 people using digital recording. "I think there's a movie here," he thought at that moment.
Berrong, who also lived in the provinces of Kent, Ravenna and Hudson, said he had directed his film. In the following spring, he went to an independent theater and asked him to rent the theater to screen his new documentary, which highlighted the liberation of the region by General George S. Patton. After reviewing Berrong's work, the owners agreed to rent him the theater.
"The president of the theater told me that between 20 and 30 people would come," Berrong said. "On the day of the screening, they had to fire people, so we added a second representation, the same thing happened, they had to fire people right and left. In a very rich vein, the biggest newspaper in France has written several articles on this documentary, and they are very favorable there. "
This two-hour documentary led to the production of two other documentaries of the same length and a fourth in progress, Berrong said. The third, he added, was created in October. In addition to this first independent theater, Berrong said his documentaries were shown in town halls. The first movie was screened "I do not know how many times now." Berrong added that he constantly revised his films as he learned more and interviewed more people. He estimates that he has interviewed over 120 people at this stage, some of them more than once, and between 120 and 150 hours of filming.
In fact, said Berrong, he no longer needs to look for people to interview, they find him.
"I already have a witness listed for next time," said Berrong. "I met him while I was in a bakery." I was talking to a friend and the guy behind him asked me, "Are you the guy who makes these movies about World War II?" , is not it? "I said" yes, I am. "He said" I have a friend who might want to talk to you. "
All his efforts have not been planned, said Berrong. Once, he spent three years filming a potential film, then gave up the entire project, claiming it was not a good movie. Another project he launched but which was set aside is a topic "still sensitive 75 years later".
"Liberating France was not on Roosevelt, Churchill or Eisenhower's list of things to do," Berrong said. "They went from town to town to go to Germany, they did not set up a Provisional Government, so in those areas there was a lot of conflict for several months.
"It was a wild west during those months," Berrong said. "Very often, the police have been involved with the occupiers, people accused of collaborating with the Nazis have been accused of collaborating with the Nazis, and between 8,000 and 9,000 French have been killed by 39, other French Women accused of collaborating have been shaved, an extremely humiliating experience for the woman, sometimes a swastika was painted on the head, which often allowed men scorn to take revenge on a woman. These women were innocent, people remember, it's a very difficult subject, and a subject that all my witnesses speak about. "
Berrong said his documentaries are shown for free.
"When I make a film, everyone discovers it," said Berrong. "I pack my bags, it's not a way to get rich, I do not think any documentary filmmaker becomes rich." Ken Burns, who is one of my idols, I do not I do not think he's rich in his documentaries, that's what I spend my free time and there's an audience for that. "
However, documentaries will not be screened in the United States in the near future, if ever: they are filmed in French, Berrong said. The interested public in this country would be very small.
Making documentaries requires "a lot of patience and a lot of time," Berrong said.
"I do not try to write a history of France and the Second World War, it would take volumes and volumes, and that was done," Berrong said. "But I'm trying to make history of this region here." I spoke to a lot of people, Catholic schools, public schools, the city, the countryside.They tell how was Life there under the Germans There were two big German bases there German troops marched day and night and it terrified them Have you ever spent three days in a pirogue with bombs flying over? did not do it, but people have told me their story in a vivid fashion. "
Reporter Helms can be contacted at 330-541-9423, email@example.com or @AprilKHelms_RPC