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De Mémoire d’Anciens 

Victoire Theisman
St Barthélemy  |  2007  |  52 min.
Presented by producer
Cedric Robion 

De Memoire d'Anciens (Memories of Our Past) is a wonderful documentary about the people of
St. Barth. It includes interviews with the islands' elders, as they describe the way things were.
"Not so long ago in St. Barth, there were no roads, no running water, no electricity. Old timers share the adventures of their lives, from working in the salt flats to selling contraband on schooners, weaving palm fronds, and sailing as stowaways to St. Thomas...."


Members of the French community on St. Thomas will enjoy this great film; and the general public can learn about the history of St. Thomas' French community. Interviewees include: Lucina Lédée, Valentine and Jeanne Laplace, Sully Magras, Georges Gréaux, Romon Beal, Doudou and Camelle; they all describe the simple life they led in their younger days, how many St. Barth men left for St. Thomas to look for work, collecting salt at the ponds and weaving palm fronds.


An interview with one of the first metropolitan French to settle the island is with Doctor Weil, he was the only doctor for the entire island, and served also as the dentist and veterinarian. And Mr. Beal describes the old time schooners and the effects of hurricanes, as well as the operation of the salt ponds.


Directed by Victoire Theismann, the filmmaker wanted the images and voices to capture the soul of the island, the spirit many who visited the island before the tourist boom appreciated, and the true nature of the islands’ people, which is often hidden behind the jet set glitz of today. The film was produced by Cedric Robion who shared in the goal of depicting the islands’ people and way of life. Some old footage is used to help illustrate the memories of the islanders interviewed. The film is in French, interviews are in French, Creole and Patois, and the entire film has English subtitles.


Victoire Theismann. Born in Brussels, she has lived mostly in Paris. After studying journalism and psychology, as well as taking classes at the Conservatory of Dramatic Art, she worked as an actor in the theatre for 20 years in Belgium, France, and the USA. In 1996, she went back to school and studied to be a psychoanalyst but has not abandoned her artistic career, participating in the writing of scenarios for features and short films, as well as documentaries. She has directed two documentaries and a short, and is also a theatre director. 

Cédric Robion has been making documentaries since 2001. In Saint Barth, where he lived for five years, his production company, Telemac, made a series of 4x52-minute films for France O: De Mémoires d’Anciens, Terres des Saintes, Anguilla, d’un monde à l’autre, and Marie-Galante, le goût amer du sucre.


For the past 10 years, he has lived between Argentina and France and has specialized in archeological documentaries. His training as an engineer allows him to do complex research, to make difficult subjects more accessible to the general public. His films blend scientific adventure and the discovery of little-known civilizations. His productions for Agatfilms include: Le Sarcophage glacé de Mongolie (Arte, 52 min, 2013); La tombe de Gengis Khan, le secret dévoilé (France 5, 90 min, 2016); Oman, le trésor de Mudhmar (Planète +,
52 min, 2018). He is currently working on a
90-minute film for France 5 on the appearance of the human race.

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