The Grocer's Son, the Mayor, the Village and the World

Directed by Claire Simon

111 minutes / Color
French / English subtitles
Release: 2023
Copyright: 2020

Back in the 1970s, the southern French village of Lussas bet its economic future on documentary film—launching an annual festival that would become renowned. Now, the village is making an even bigger gamble, going all-in with the construction of a state-of-the-art post-production and training center, and the launch of Tënk, a new streaming service dedicated to independent auteur documentary.

After the jubilant launch of the Tënk website, the team celebrates. Then the realities of shaky financing, burnout, and the struggle to meet subscriber targets hit. Founder Jean-Marie Barbe works the phones, lobbies politicians, and implores more locals and film professionals to sign up—when he’d rather be discussing the relative merits of Scorsese’s documentaries. Meanwhile, town mayor Jean-Paul Roux must convince residents that the millions going into the new documentary building on the edge of town is money well spent.

An observational documentary filmed over two years by Claire Simon, THE GROCER’S SON, THE MAYOR, THE VILLAGE AND THE WORLD records the struggles of launching a startup, alongside the timeless rhythms of the village: pruning fruit trees, harvesting grapes, making wine. It is about hope and dreams, ancient crafts and new technologies—and the power of documentaries.

“With admiration and concern, [Simon] reveals the relentless-and tenuous-collective behind-the-scenes labor on which a thriving artistic realm depends.” —The New Yorker

“What’s welcome isn’t just the unapologetically micro-view of very particular type of nonfiction enthusiasts but the granular work underpinning all such enterprises—presentations of business plans by the quarter to skeptically sympathetic interrogators, meetings with untold numbers of parties to secure additional blocks of financing.” —Filmmaker Magazine

“Claire Simon realizes a most original work about regional cultural empowerment.” —La Jornada

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Purchase DVD for $348.00

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Select Accolades

  • First Look at the MoMI - Museum of the Moving Image, Opening Night film 2021 
  • True/False Film Festival 2021
  • Montreal International Documentary Film Festival 2020
  • International Documentary Festival Amsterdam 2020
  • The Festival dei Popoli 2020
  • Thessaloniki TIDFF 2021
  • DOXA Documentary Film Festival 2021
  • Special Competition, Moscow Interational Documnentary Film Festival Doker 2021


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