A project that’s been occupying my time the last month or so: creating English subtitles for La Guerre des Fromages qui Puent, aka “The War of the Stinky Cheeses”.
UPDATE: Some people are reporting that the subtitles are missing. You might need to click on the CC button to turn the captioning on. Please let me know if that doesn’t work.
This documentary, produced and aired by France 5 last year, investigates the explosion of artisanal and raw milk cheese production in North America even as it is increasingly threatened in France itself, historically the “Land of Cheese”. Speaking to artisanal cheese makers in France, America and Canada, as well as affineurs, cheesemongers, importers, educators, dairy scientists and people from all facets of the cheese business, we learn of the complex challenges facing the producers of artisanal cheese on both sides of the Atlantic, with equal measures of hope and concern for all involved.
The filmmakers spoke to many luminaries of the cheese world, including Hervé Mons and his team at Mons Affineurs, Rodolph Le Meunier, Matteo Kehler and the Cellars at Jasper Hill, Veronique Richez-Lerouge, Ann Saxelby, Larkin Cold Storage, Beechers NYC, Fromagerie Des Grondine, the American Cheese Society and many more (One can’t help but note the many people that were not included of course, and it would be easy to say “I can’t believe they didn’t talk to X, or Y”, but you can only fit so many interviews in 50 minutes I suppose).
This documentary does a good job of presenting a broad array of viewpoints and perspectives, from the smallest farmstead cheese makers in the mountains of France — the “last of the Mohican” fromagers, as Hervé Mons call them — to the corporate giants who are now eying the rapid growth of American artisanal cheese — and the dollars it represents — with great interest; in doing so they expose a world in flux, with opportunities and dangers for all involved, but driven at its core by an awe-inspiring passion for cheese in all its stinky glory.
You can watch it here, or on YouTube.
Note: It took me a few weeks, and some assistance from a professional translator (aka my Alsatian mom) who proved invaluable on some of the more obscure slang and turns of phrase. I think I got the crux of what people were saying, but my French is rusty, and when transcribing the English speakers the voice-overs sometimes made it impossible to hear what was being said. So by all means, if you catch errors on my part — especially if you’re the person I’m subtitling! — don’t hesitate to let me know and I’ll correct it asap.
Thanks also to Carlos Yescas from Lactography.com for his helpful translation notes!