Podcast: Filming under a Covid cloud, surveying the French, the Foreign Legion

Audio 32:12
Spotlight on France episode 50
Spotlight on France episode 50 © RFI

Why is France's Covid vaccination drive lagging behind other countries? Also, French film and TV productions are booming, despite new restrictions on set to stop the virus spreading. A large-scale health survey of tens of thousands of French people yields troves of information. And Foreign Legion recruitment woes as the elite unit marks its 190th anniversary. 


The French movie industry is booming, despite Covid lockdowns and the risk of transmitting the virus on set. The first Covid lockdown in March 2020 shut down productions in France, but since then filming has picked up speed. Some 450 productions have been shot in France since May 2020 (compared to 300 in 2019). But Covid has meant people work differently, and productions are more expensive. We hear from a nurse who is a Covid 'référent' on set. And assistant director Laure Monrréal describes how her work has changed over the last year, bringing new continuity challenges.  (Listen @6'40'')

Scientists have found evidence Covid had been circulating in France before the first official case was identified in January 2020. One of the studies was based on testing blood collected by Constances (@constances_coho), an extensive, long-term health study of over 200,000 people in France. Started in 2013, Constances data has already yielded a trove of information about French people's health and habits. Co-founder Marcel Goldberg talks about what such a comprehensive study tells us about France, and how public health authorities use the data to drive policy decisions. (Listen @20'30'')

France's Légion Etrangère, or Foreign Legion, was founded 190 years ago, on 10 March 1831, to support France's colonial incursion into Algeria. Made up almost exclusively of foreigners, this elite infantry unit has a reputation for giving criminals and outsiders a second chance. It has also attracted men from all over the world with the promise  of French nationality. (Listen @15'25'')

As France marks the 30th anniversary of the death of singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, we look into how he played with incest and misogyny in his music. He could have been a ready target in the era of #MeToo and #MeTooInceste, but he's in fact more popular than ever. For more detail, find Alison's article on the subject here. (Listen @29'05'')


This episode was mixed by Cecile Pompeani.

Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Google podcasts (link here), Spotify (link here), or your favourite podcast app.

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