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Gov provides funding for film about Jersey's resistance heroes

Gov provides funding for film about Jersey's resistance heroes

Monday 17 April 2023

Gov provides funding for film about Jersey's resistance heroes

Monday 17 April 2023

A film about an artist who pushed messages of resistance during Jersey's Occupation has received financial backing from the Government of Jersey - with funding for another film also potentially in the pipeline.

A request made to Government under the Freedom of Information Law has revealed £8,760 of funding has been granted to a BFI-produced feature film about Claude Cahun.

There are currently two films in pre-production by Jersey writers about the artists, step-sisters and former Jersey residents Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe (aka Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore), who put anti-Nazi propaganda in the pockets of German soldiers during the Occupation.



Pictured: Claude tells the story of Claude Cahun and Suzanne Malherbe, who were famous for their striking surrealist photography.

The first is Claude, a feature film written by Hannah Patterson, which is currently in development with BFI and 65 Wilding Films. It is co-written and directed by Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor.

Hannah, a former JCG student and previously supported Arthouse Jersey writer, is a playwright and screenwriter. Her screenplay for Claude won the Galway Film Fleadh Pitching Award and a spot on the 2017 Athena List, which features between 3 and 5 exceptional screenplays with strong female protagonists that have yet to be made into films.

The film is summarised as follows: "Set on the Channel Islands during WW2, lovers and surrealist artists Claude and Marcel mount their own resistance movement against the invading Nazis, in the face of terrifying odds."

According to the FOI response, "grant funding was provided to the Claude project to support specific pre-production costs" - no further information was provided on the exact pre-production requirements.

The project is yet to begin shooting.



Pictured: Trespassers is the second film funded by the Government of Jersey on the resistance heroes.

Another film which could soon receive funding from Jersey's Government is Trespassers by Jonathan Socrates which also focuses on the two "unlikely heroes" of the Occupation. The film is due to be directed by French director Vanessa Filho, best known for Angel Face.

The Government of Jersey received an "expression of interest for financial support for the Trespassers film".

The FOI response said: "Having reviewed the initial request in a positive manner, a full business case has been requested that is yet to be fully considered and a decision made by Government."

It was recently announced that Vanessa Paradis and Nina Hoss are set to star in what Screen Daily called an "English and French-language period thriller." The film is also being produced by Mirror Productions, Giles Foreman Films and France's FullDawa Films.

According to Screen Daily: "The film tells the true story of Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe – two surrealist artists, who worked under the pseudonyms Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore. The women were stepsisters and lovers, and launched the campaign of resistance against the Nazi occupation of the island of Jersey – a self-governing dependency of the British crown – during the Second World War."

It is expected to begin filming in spring 2023.

Speaking to Express in 2019, Jonathan said the resistance pair "were middle-aged, French immigrants, they were lesbian lovers and step sisters. All of those aspects were interesting to me. They led one of the longest campaigns of resistance, it's a cultural crime they are not celebrated."

A journalist and writer, Jonathan now lives in London but he grew up in St. Brelade and regularly visits the island.

It was on one of those visits that he spotted the plaque commemorating Claude on the side of La Rocquaise - the house she lived in with Marcel.

Who were Claude and Marcel?

Recently featured in an International Women's Day focus, surrealist French photographer Claude Cahun (born Lucie Renée Schwob), who is best known for her androgynous self-portraits, moved to Jersey in the late 1930s and lived through the Second World War in St Brelade with her life and artistic partner Marcel Moore (born Suzanne Malherbe).

Claude and Marcel were part of the resistance against German forces and wrote anti-Nazi leaflets encouraging soldiers to questions their orders and desert.


Pictured: Claude Cahun (Lucie Renée Schwob) and Marcel Moore (Suzanne Malherbe) are buried in St. Brelade's Church's cemetery.

However, their acts of rebellion eventually led to imprisonment for the pair and they were threatened with a death sentence.

Although this was never carried out, their incarceration caused Cahun ill health until her death in 1954. Malherbe stayed in the Island until her death in 1972.

Much of their collection, including the resistance pamphlets and their alien cards, is held at the Jersey Archive, but it also appears in libraries around the word, such as Yale University's world-leading Beinecke Library.

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