Synopsis by Mark Deming
Larzac was a rural community in Southwest France that seemed largely cut off from the rest of the nation in 1970 when the land and its people suddenly became the focus of a nationwide controversy. That year, the French government announced a nearby military training facility would be expanded, and many of Larzac's farmers would have to move to make way for the new base. However, most of the local residents were working land that had been part of their families for generations, and they were extremely reluctant to move. Determined to hold on to their property, the people of Larzac began waging a campaign in the media to make citizens outside of the Southwest aware of their situation, and began taking their tractors and livestock to the nation's major cities for protests to assert their rights over those of the government. The farmers soon found unexpected but enthusiastic allies in a handful of left-wing groups, and Larzac became a cause célèbre in the French counterculture, as hippies and landowners joined forces in a battle for their rights, and in time the people of Larzac grew into seasoned activists. Filmmaker Christian Rouaud explores the long tug of war between Larzac and the French military in documentary Leadersheep (aka Tous au Larzac), which combines newsreel footage of the protests with new interviews with the participants. Leadersheep received its world premiere at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.