I Will Build It.
They Will Come.
Updated August 2016
Sorbonne graduate, EWTN alumnus and film-maker Daniel Rabourdin is determined to expose the hidden horror of 140,000 French Catholic martyrs killed in 1796. If this means sleeping in a tent outside his own home – rented to raise money for the film – that’s what he will do. Regina Magazine’s Teresa Limjoco caught up with Daniel in America.
Tell us about your early life in France.
When I was a teenager in France my teachers would ridicule Catholicism to try to make the students lose their faith. Fortunately I had a sort of mentor (a Latin Mass-goer) and an intellectually alert father who had “vaccinated” me against these critics. I was to stand up, to dare to speak up.
Some of my peers preferred that I keep quiet because they did not like ‘drama’. Yet I talked about the dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, for example. That dogma was not invented by a later Church but articulated by the Church as the belief was present in the Catholic people from the beginning. In the end, the teachers seemed to respect my speaking up.
You live in America now, right?
Yes. Fast-forward 35 years later, I came to America and experienced much more respect for religion here. There is so much that I like here.
And then after a few trips back to France where this intellectual persecution continues and I woke up to this fact: there is an underreported abuse of children in public schools. Specifically, I call this “Soul’s Abuse”.
In other places it has been called brainwashing. This abuse by adults in school who are doing something that nobody asked them to do is in my opinion a crime and should be put into legislation.
What led you to an interest in the War of the Vendee?
I was searching for another docudrama to film, with action and faith. I found an old historical comic book in my basement in France, on the War of the Vendée.
The War of the Vendée was an early yet massive persecution of people of faith by atheistic forces. At the height of their battle, the Vendeans had gathered 70,000 men-in-arms.
These farmers without military expertise rose up. They had many victories, and then succumbed to an enormous influx of Revolutionary soldiers brought back from the Eastern Front. To my eyes, they are the proto-martyrs of Christians dying at the hands of an atheistic power.
DANIEL DIRECTS A CRITICAL SCENE: “After most of the fighting ceased and the Vendeans had lost, the French Revolutionaries insisted on eradicating the civilian population. About 140,000 people disappeared — 80% of them women, children and old people.”
Since their history is still ‘swept under the carpet’ by the public school system in France, I thought it would be a good movie to make it known to the whole world. With more awareness in the world, perhaps something would change in France later.
Don’t many French people know of this genocide in French history?
It is mostly the Christians (and in France when one says Christian, one means most of the time Catholic) who still know about it, because it was about their ancestors in the faith. The people in France who love the Latin Mass are the most aware of the story. They all have some book at home about it. They have been kept aware about where our civilization is headed. They are very educated historically.
Most of the other forces in France prefer to silence any information about it.
But books exist – history books, experts, historians. And, the modern political leaders of the region of the Vendée are still militant about it. They are pushing for official recognition by the French Republic of the genocide that happened in the Vendée.
How did the film production come together: scriptwriters, director, cast, music composer, cinematographer, etc.?
I did it with practically nothing. Now that it is filmed and 98% edited, I still wonder how we did not fail.
JIM MORLINO (L) AND DANIEL RABOURDIN ON LOCATION: “A dozen volunteers in America and in France are helping me. My director of photography, Jim Morlino, worked on a very generous basis as he loved the subject and saw I could not do it alone.”
The three professional actors that I convinced worked for half their usual fees. They stayed extra days in the field for the filming.
Farmers lent their farms and their fields.
The re-enactors Le Brigand du Bocage, in the Vendée and their founder, Ghislaine, were incredible. They acted for free, found the locations, told me where to rent the costumes. Ghislaine spent a whole night without sleep ironing the costumes.
The historian Reynald Secher brought his guillotine from his museum, and had a mass grave dug out on his property for one scene.
This is amazing.
Yes, I was just bold and naïve enough, I suppose. I quit my job at EWTN, cashed in my retirement fund, rented out my own room in my house and slept under a tent. Still no salary and I count on good health to save on medical insurance. I do not know myself how the budget is going to be closed but I know that we are not stopping the production process. I still need about $7,000 to finish the editing.
I also tried and still am trying crowd fund raising on the internet. I actually spend half of my time begging, asking for money…in exchange for a beautiful tee-shirt of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that I designed. In exchange for other surprises. We try to be thankful…
What has been the reaction/response to the project – from ordinary lay people in France, historians, the Church?
WONDERFUL, ORDINARY PEOPLE: “We have had people like this young jobless engineer in France who funded me with $1300. In America, there is an old poor widow in my street who donated $15. It is very meaningful for them to be part of this. In Paris a family hosted me in their living room for two weeks.”
A French bishop lent me an old van and wrote a blessing for the production. I slept in the van several times. In America, a farmer and his brother give me money and also moral support. These friendships are very important and they come along with a lot of prayer.
When people know the truth and suffer in similar ways to the Vendeans, they go into action. In some ways, they are heroes.
The descendants of the Armenians (who suffered genocide at the hands of the Muslim Turks), of Ukrainians (genocide at the hands of the Communist Russians), Cubans, Vietnamese and Poles are very aware of the dangers of powerful atheist governments.
I tell them how engaged I am in this fight for religious liberty. Their part is to sacrifice a sky trip or a restaurant meal in order to get this docudrama done.
You are an artist supported by the ordinary people, then.
You know, creators and artists are most often poor. And if their paintings in the past or their films in the present are seen, it is because sponsors of the art exist. People are inspired when they see that an artistic work lasts a long time in its educational effect.
DANIEL (L) ON LOCATION WITH ‘REVOLUTIONARY TROOPS’: “In the past, you had to convince kings or popes to make a change in the world. Today you have to convince the broad population, and this is most efficiently done through the internet such as Regina Magazine.”
Now, I try to call all those good people regularly. I love their concern, which is very touching. They must know they are doing a work of charity to let the truth be known.
I think that the martyrs of the Vendée are smiling on them in Heaven. The little children who died with their rosaries in their hands, the Carmelites of Compiègne … this teen girl who encouraged her little sister while walking up to the guillotine: “Do not cry little sister, tonight we have a dinner with the Sweet Lord.”
I have not yet tried to ask the help of any foundation, or authorities, or politicians. But I hear it could work. I would love it. I would love even more if people with good will would contact some foundation for a grant. I just do not have the time to do so myself.
The donations from the good people along the path continue supporting us “just enough”. As Mother Angelica experienced when she was funding her television program, the Lord keeps sending just what is needed for the bread we need today.
Where are you now with producing the film?
All filming is done, both in France and in America. The acting sequences with action (the drama part) and the interview sequences (documentary part). We are in phase 4 post production.
PROJECT STATUS UPDATE: “Right now, for example, I am inserting sound bites from a Ukrainian historian. Timely, no? She speaks about how the Soviet Russians copied the genocide of the French Revolution and applied it against the Ukrainian farmers. They were starved to death. Two million deaths. Lenin called the Volga where he drowned his enemies his “little Loire”. The Loire is the river in Vendée where the French Revolutionaries drowned no less than 4000 Vendeans in one session. We recreated some of that in a river in France. It was quite emotional.”
When do you foresee the premiere?
It will be in October 2016 for the English version. EWTN will air it in the fall. Ignatius press is helping to distribute. Stay tuned for more information.
Everybody who wants can help with the cause. With active people, active Catholics, active citizens we may bring our film to their theater and they can invite their community, school, or parish to fill the theater. After that we may try history channels. Then foreign countries (for now, Poland is interested, as well as Canada). We may try streaming.
Why do you think the story of the Vendee is so important?
People must spread the word and make America aware that atrocities can come from anybody — and in the 20th century, they came mostly from atheistic states — ultra-centralized, ultra-liberal powers such as the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, or Cuba.
In the 20th century, atrocities did not come from ethnicities or religions. They came from atheism. Nazism (a contraction of National Socialism) was militantly atheistic as well. Historians evaluate the death toll of Nazism at 40 million. They estimate the death toll of radical leftist powers at 140 million.
These outnumber the deaths due to the Black Plague and ancient invasions, I think. The number encompasses the wars initiated, the purges, the gulag, the reeducation camps, and the starvation by loss of productivity, and by punishment of those who used to be productive (the entrepreneurs, the farmers etc.).
A FASCINATING INTERVIEW with Stephane Courtois, the author of The Black Book of Communism. He was part of an armed Communist plot in Paris in the 1970s. They aborted everything at the last minute when they became conscious of their folly. Today Stephane is a political convert. The leftist intelligentsia in France that holds all the “cultural locks” of society is all up in arms, but he is happily free. He says in our film; “I am not a believer in God but if you take away the Christian God from a society, do not be surprised to suffer a catastrophe at the end”.
Where can people go to find more information about the film?
Besides viewing your film (which looks very exciting, indeed!), where can people read/view to learn more about this historical episode?
I am so glad that you asked. I recommend first the little book For Altar and Throne by Michael Davies. It is a pleasant read by an English author.
To understand the century-old process that we are going through, I also recommend the intelligent yet easy to read book of Dr. Benjamin Wiker of Steubenville: “Worshiping the State.” It shows the progression from the French and English philosophers who believed in a heaven on earth that would be imposed by force. It shows how this was applied during the French Revolution and how this is still the dangerous dream of radical liberals today. The Hippies believed in that heaven too. Their descendants now are hard at work to impose that “heaven” on us.
And then of course, there is the courageous book A French Genocide by the French historian Reynald Secher who makes known the need to recognize a genocide in the Vendée. Mr. Secher went to the French Army archives and found all the orders to the French generals to eradicate the population in Vendée.
How can people help you with this project? Can they still donate to help finance the production?
Oh yes, they can and we just can’t continue without their help! We have our support page on our website and the people who help us also receive gifts from us. For the smaller donors, for example, we send them our hat, and a tee-shirt made with the colors of the production.
For the very generous donors there is also a five-course dinner by myself, names in the credits as Associate Producers, a visit in Los Angeles etc. Many of our supporters become involved in the making of the show. It is quite interesting for them, too.
To tell you the truth, I still need around $7,000. We are in phase 4 post production. Editing has been a very long phase in the production process. Sometimes we spent 5 hours at it and I have only 15 new seconds to show for it. We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Updated August 2016.
The movie is completed. You may rent or buy here.