Weave of Time

A documentary charting the course of history running through the Var village of Cotignac. It’s a community that has survived wars, the decline of its traditional local industries and depopulation over the past centuries, but is now being transformed by new investment into a haven for tourism, wine and the arts. ‘Au fils du Temps’ is the name of the French version.

Au fils du temps (version Française)

Characters in the film

  • Graham Porter

    Graham Porter

    Graham Porter is the Canadian businessman who commissioned the documentary. He’s built a home in Cotignac for his wife Wendy and their two children. He’s invested in developing two projects which will bring new life to the heart of the village.

    “I think it’s the quality of some of the relationships you have here with people that you don’t get in places like Hong Kong and New York. You get to meet a broad group of very interesting people that have time to relate to you more.”
  • Jean-Pierre Veran

    Jean-Pierre Veran

    The Mayor of Cotignac, Jean-Pierre Veran is delighted with the work that is now underway, including the opening of a new ‘Centre D’Art La Falaise’ in the main square of Cotignac and the plans to convert a former hotel into a school for Provencale cuisine.

    “The whole work is going to be a showcase for the village…..Cotignac is already an important place that attracts many visitors but this will allow us to be known even better.”
  • Armand Avril

    Armand Avril

    Armand Avril is a world-renowned artist, one of the many who have decided to make a permanent home in the village. His work, showcased in the documentary, reflects his deep passion for African art.

    “A brilliant juggler of space and form…….his early compositions drew on the work of Braque, Picasso and Matisse…..a man living on the edge of society, a solitary soul.”
  • Nicolas Valabrègue

    Nicolas Valabrègue

    Nicolas Valabrègue sculpts in wood and many of his eagerly awaited creations have been exhibited at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. He has a studio in the hills above Cotignac.

    “There has never been a rejection of foreigners here. The Cotignaciens have always welcomed people who came to settle down in the village.“
  • Richard Artaud

    Richard Artaud

    Richard Artaud used to run a very successful bar and restaurant in Cotignac. Back in the sixties and seventies he remembers the village was a haven for both film and rock stars where they could escape the constant attention of the paparazzi.

    “Monty Python’s Eric Idle bought a house here and then some exceptional people turned up: The Rolling Stones and Paul Simon, Charlotte Rampling on the terrace, David Bowie at the bar. It all happened with complete discretion. That’s why they loved Cotignac.”
  • Maryse Vacca

    Maryse Vacca

    Maryse Vacca is a prominent member of Cotignac’s local council, whose family have been in the village for generations. She explained how the community was deeply divided before the First World War into the so-called Whites and Reds, the Catholic bourgeois families and the socialists, but love has a way of healing everything.

    “Love is both blind and deaf, and whatever the parents said, the time came when there was a wedding.”
  • Stephen Cronk

    Stephen Cronk

    Stephen Cronk and his wife Jeany achieved their lifetime ambition by moving to Cotignac and setting up an award-winning wine business ‘Mirabeau en Provence’. Their rosé has been described by wine experts as “heart-achingly beautiful”, but Stephen has his own words for it.

    “It’s not just a frivolous wine for having when you’re on the beach. This is a proper, serious, gastronomic wine. But it’s not an intellectual wine, it’s a wine to be enjoyed by itself or with food.”
  • Régis Vian-des-Rives

    Régis Vian-des-Rives

    Régis Vian-des-Rives can trace his family roots back to 1527 in Cotignac and is deeply involved in running the new ‘Centre D’Art La Falaise’ in the village despite his full time job at the Opera House in Toulon. He has a unique insight into the historical character of the people of Provence.

    “ In 1697 the Governor of Provence had already noticed that people of modest origin didn’t take their caps off in front of their superiors. They didn’t like the feeling of being belittled.”

The Film Makers

  • David Chater

    David Chater

    A foreign correspondent who has worked for ‘Independent Television News’, ‘Sky News’ and ‘Aljazeera’. He lives in Cotignac with his wife Melanie Anstey where they set up a French production company called ‘Quince Media’. This was his first foray outside television news and into the world of documentaries. He studied Experimental Psychology at St John’s College, Oxford and began his career in journalism on the ‘Kent Messenger’. Executive Producer and writer of ‘Weave of Time’.
  • Sylve Desmeuzes-Balland

    Sylve Desmeuzes-Balland

    Producer and main researcher on the documentary. She taught at the Sorbonne, the University of Texas and UCLA. She then became a film and television producer ending her career as Head of Production at ‘SFP’, the French Society of Production. She continues publishing sociological essays and narratives and is a frequent visitor to Cotignac.
  • Richard Ashdown

    Richard Ashdown

    Richard is a freelance lighting cameramen who has worked in the broadcast industry since 1997, starting off in news then broadening out into documentary, factual and corporate film-making. He has experience of working in conflict areas but stresses he’s also good with peaceful areas! He enjoys the opportunity to portray people and places with creativity and sensitivity. He runs his own production company called ‘Richer Image’.
  • Alexander Ohrn

    Alexander Ohrn

    A freelance television producer who has worked worldwide including for ‘Channel Four News’ and ‘RTL’ television . His recent assignments have been covering the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, the Syrian refugee crisis and the troubles in West and Central Africa as well as the terror attacks in Paris where he was born. He edited both the English and French versions of the documentary also providing the voiceover for ‘Au Fils du Temps’.