The “Huguette The Power” project, the choir of the 3rd age that gives you a second youth, was born from the meeting of a major cultural player in the department, the association Au Foin de la Rue organising the eponymous festival, the local EHPAD with residents and health professionals, and finally a retro-actual music group “Mémé les Watts”. Together, they put together an incredible choir of around sixty “Huguettes”. Arnaud Ray, video artist and director, came to ‘catch’ moments of life and sharing with his camera during rehearsals and concerts, with a view to making a film lasting just a few minutes. It was so rich and intense that it ended up as a 52-minute documentary. To ‘sow the seeds’ and show that it can be done, the aim is to distribute it as widely as possible.
Presentation of the project
Under the impetus of Julie Aubry, a cultural mediator with the Au Foin de La Rue association, singing workshops are being organised in six EHPADs and one EDI (Espace de découverte et d’initiative) with Pierre Bouguier from the Compagnie des Arbres et des Hommes and singer with the group Mémé les Watts, with a view to setting up a choir of elderly people. The “Huguette The Power” project will give rise to another project, that of making a film about it. Sixty Huguettes make up the choir, work on their voices using a traditional repertoire and even compose a song, “le rap d’Huguette”. Arnaud Ray, the film-maker, follows Pierre Bouguier, the “conductor”, as he moves around the choir, filming all the moving moments. Footage of workshops, rehearsals, concerts, interviews with organisers, elderly people and other participants follows one another and is organised to highlight all the energy expended by some and rediscovered by others. The documentary highlights the importance of the social link and the fulfilment and well-being that this has brought to all these people. According to the filmmaker, “we had to go further than simply showing a shared pleasure. It was also a question of redefining what old age means, and showing the extent to which music awakens bodies and souls. Les Huguettes took to the stage for the first time at the Au Foin de la Rue festival on 2 July 2016. It was a real success! They all wanted to do it again, and the result was a second concert, this time supported by the CIAS de l’Ernée: Huguette The Power, again! on 22 January 2017 in Ernée, with resounding success. Demand was so great that the capacity had to be increased. The opportunity to show what our older members can do gives them a great deal of pride and fulfilment, it puts them in a position of talent and it’s very rewarding for them. The end of life is often a difficult time for families. “With this project, we’re turning it into a moment of joy, creating positive memories and even easing the bereavement process,” says Pierre Bouguier. The DVD was released in December 2017, following an initial screening at the Ernée cinema. Since its release, the documentary has been shown around fifty times in cinemas, vocational colleges, youth centres and training centres. That’s around fifty screenings in 10 départements for almost 5,000 people. It was then broadcast for the first time on television on France 3. In turn, the national media reported on this incredible adventure, and the Huguettes became real stars! LEADER support not only made it possible to finance the making of the documentary, from filming to communications, it also made it possible to get started. Without European funding, the film would not have been able to capture all the emotions felt during this incredible adventure. “This film has given them a rare and precious voice, and has touched its audience.
The emblematic character of the project
It is the issue of adapting services to the population that is central here. The “Huguette the power” documentary project is at the heart of a reflection on the services to be provided to elderly people in residential care homes, and in particular on the opportunity they have to take part in intergenerational and cultural projects that involve them in interaction with other players. This project is clearly aimed at helping elderly people in EHPAD to ‘age well’, and in particular at creating social links for this ‘fragile’ population. The project is innovative: the choir uses a repertoire of traditional songs as well as hip hop, creating links between the elderly and an audience at a contemporary music festival. The project has been identified at national level in the gerontology network as a completely new initiative in terms of the approach to elderly people in residential care homes: here they are given back their full place in society, they have a role to play, they come to see them in shows, at the cinema and so on. Les Huguettes will even be invited to perform at the Grand Rex in Paris, accompanied by around a hundred fans. The success of the choir was due in no small part to the commitment of the nursing and care staff at the EHPAD. The documentary highlights all the hard work put in by the staff. This project is a real success on all levels: human, health, social and cultural, and the broadcasting of this documentary, whose aim is to encourage other initiatives, has already led to the launch of a number of inclusive choirs, such as Germaine and the Kids and Les Janzettes.
Compagnie Des Arbres et des Hommes
Pays de La Loire