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Cannes: migrant documentary-maker slams French state policies

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Cannes: migrant documentary-maker slams French state policies

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The cast and crew of a new documentary pose together on the famous red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, ahead of a screening of their new film on French migrant rights.

It tells the story of an olive farmer, Cedric Herrou, who's helped thousands of migrants cross the French-Italian border.

His aid work has landed him in court a number of times, but has helped him become a symbol for activists fighting asylum law.

The 38-year-old olive farmer, who stars in the documentary, says he won't let the glamour of the film industry go to his head:

"I'm going to walk up the steps of the Cannes Film Festival in the same way as I walked up the steps of the courthouse, keeping a cool head, with the ultimate aim of talking about, of denouncing, of saying what I've seen happening in France, and particularly in the Roya valley," he said.

In January 2017, Herrou walked up the court steps and was met with applause from hundreds of supporters, as well as a handful of protesters.

He is currently waiting for an appeal to be heard against his latest conviction.

"Immigration is not the problem in our valley, the problem is the French state, and the actions it is taking. If France doesn't want to look after these people, then let us do it, and stop criminalising us, and insulting us. If the government isn't up to the task, then I believe France, the real France, is," he says.

The film, titled 'To the Four Winds', is directed by Herrou's friend Michel Toesca.

"I think we are right at the start of migration, and what is the most important for me is we need to set something up, and to encourage some real, long-term thinking about this situation, because it's clear to me that it's a situation that is only just beginning. Nobody is thinking like this among the people who govern us, here and around Europe," he growls.

Set in the Roya Valley. the film follows Cedric Herrou's work across a period of 3 years, portraying his struggles in helping migrants reach France.

Momoudo Coljunpa was among those attending the premiere of "To the Four Winds". The 28-year-old arrived in France in 2015 after fleeing the Darfur region of Sudan. He was housed by Herrou and others in the Roya valley.

"I find these good people and suddenly I find myself between stars of the whole world," he said dressed in a dinner jacket, before heading to the screening with other members of the cast.

Cedric Herrou says migrants are continuing to cross the border with approximately 50 people a night arriving in his village since the end of winter. He hopes the festival would draw the world's attention to their plight.

The documentary, directed by his friend Michel Toesca, is receiving a special screening at the festival, outside the main competition.