Through a series of portraits, Depardon tells of the lives of peasants and breeders who live in the mountains, reporting on their values, daily chores and habits, but also showing their roots and feeling of belonging to the land.
The core theme of the film is: who will take care of the land after this current generation? What will happen to all mountain farms? The documentary film-making of Profils Paysans started in 1998: after L’Approche and Le Quotidien, Depardon started La vie moderne, the third film of this intense and long project, which led him to live, know and document the French peasant and mountain life over a period of ten years. In this last film, he returns once again to the Haut-Garonne region. The old brothers Privat struggle against age and ill health, but above all they have to face the intrusion of a stranger; a couple of elderly people have to find the energy to respond to the continual problems with their cattle; a middle aged man has to face the responsibility of the family farm; a young woman is faced with insuperable obstacles in pursuing her wish to become a breeder. Depardon portrays all these characters with sincerity and empathy and shows nature and landscape, at times harsh, but with touching beauty.
Raymond Depardon was born in Villefranche-sur-Saône on June 6th 1942. After his training as a photographer he worked all over the world for the Dalmas agency of Paris. In 1963 he shot his first documentary film. He founded the Gamma agency with Gilles Caron in 1966. He shot documentary films as a television correspondent and in 1978 started to work for Magnum agency. In 1981 he founded the production company Double D Copyright Films. With Empty Quarter, une femme en Afrique (1985) and La captive du désert (1989) Depardon also began directing full-length films. In 1992, he founded the production company Palmeraie et Désert with Claudine Nougaret. Since 1969 Depardon has shown his photos in several exhibitions. In 1991 he received the Grand Prix National de la Photographie in France. In addition, he published several photography books, including Chili (1974), Tchad (1977), Le désert américain (1983), Les fiancées de Saigon (1986), Depardon/Cinéma (1993), La colline des anges (1994), Return to Vietnam (1994), La Ferme du Garet (1995), La Porte des larmes (1996) and En Afrique (1996). His filmography includes: Venezuela (1963), Israel (1967), Biafra (1968), Jan Palach (1969), Tchad: l'Embuscade (1970), Yemen (1973), Tibesti too (1976), Numéros zero (1977), Dix minutes de silence pour John Lennon (1980), Reporters (1981), Piparsod (1982), Faits divers (1983), Les années déclic, Empty Quarter, une femme en Afrique (1985), New York, N.Y. (1986), Le petit navire, Urgences (1988), Une histoire très simple, La captive du désert (1989), Contacts (1990), Carthagena – in Contre l'oubli (1991), Face à la mer (1993), Montage, Délis Flagrants (1994), Lumière et compagne, A props de Nice, La suite (1995), Afriques: Comment ça va avec la douleur? (1996), Bolivie (1997), Paris (1998), Déserts (1999), Profils paysans: L’approche, 1974, une partie de campagne (2001), Un homme sans l’occident (2002),10e chambre, instants d’audience (2003) and Profils paysans: Le quotidien, Quoi de Neuf au Garet? (2005).