VIDEO: The 12 French presidential candidates’ campaign films

Now the official campaigning period has begun in France, each of the 12 presidential candidates receives taxpayer funding to make a short film explaining their ideas. We've taken a look at their cinematic efforts, from the slick to the wobbly.

The 12 candidates competing in the French presidential election have released official campaign videos.
The 12 candidates in the French presidential election. (Photo: Joël Saget and Eric Feferberg / AFP)
  • Emmanuel Macron 

A longstanding criticism of French President Emmanuel Macron, who is widely tipped to win reelection, is that he is out of touch with the people. 

The beginning of his official campaign video seems to be at odds with Macron’s Jupiterian image. It begins with brief testimonies from regular French folk – Lona the nurse, Nathalie the teacher,  Armand the sheep farmer and Pierre who we are left to assume is either a chef or a sock manufacturer.  

The montage of these characters is abruptly edited to a shot of Macron, who appears to be standing in a carpark. He tells us that he is standing for reelection to continue changing the lives of the earlier cast. 

“We must continue to build a stronger France and Europe that depends less on others to feed ourselves, heat ourselves, move around, finance ourselves and produce,” he said, in a nod to the Ukraine crisis. 

What follows is Macron talking, still in the carpark, with some swooping shots. At roughly one minute, this is probably the shortest Macron speech on record.

There are no detailed policy proposals – but the production is relatively slick. 

  • Marine Le Pen

We tried to listen to what far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen was saying, but it was not easy to pay attention over the inspirational soundtrack. 

So let’s focus on the visuals. There are dozens of people who appear, albeit fleetingly, in this video. All of them are white. 

We see shots of Le Pen shaking hands with police officers and staring at cows. We also get views of the pristine French coastline that she wants to prevent asylum seekers from accessing

The video ends with her blowing kisses triumphantly during a rally. 

  • Jean-Luc Mélenchon 

If Jean-Luc Mélenchon wins the French election, we would love to see all Elysée press conferences moved to his cosy-looking personal library. 

Mélenchon explains this choice of location for a campaign video by saying it is the best space for him to address us directly. 

He begins on a philosophical note saying that “all life is a journey” and summarising his politics as a mission “to construct harmony between human beings between themselves and nature”. 

The viewer is treated to shots left-wing veteran in cool leather jackets visiting factories and French overseas territories. 

Unlike Macron, he lays out some of his flagship policies in details: the immediate blocking of energy prices, an increase of the minimum wage to €1,400 per month post-tax and the reduction of the retirement age to 60. 

  • Eric Zemmour 

There is something of the famous British imperialist poet, Rudyard Kipling, in the script of Éric Zemmour’s clip. 

Each line begins il vous disent (they tell you) which is reminiscent of Kipling’s poem, If

Except Zemmour is not giving advice on how to become a man – he is sending a populist message about how people accusing his supporters of being racist and ignorant are out-of-touch elites who are destroying France.

“They tell you that immigration is an opportunity,” says Zemmour, as we see a man with a baseball bat and a burning car.  

It has yet to be confirmed whether Zemmour actually owns the rights to the footage. He was sued when his campaign launch video contained numerous clips from famous French films and news channels, which he did not have permission to use. 

  • Valérie Pécresse 

Conservative candidate Valérie Pécresse presents an image of decline. 

“My dear countrymen, for ten years you have seen our country getting weaker, a fall in purchasing power, increased violence, uncontrolled immigration, rising deficits, climate emergency and a public service at the end of its tether,” she says, staring directly at the camera like a television anchor. 

Pécresse then proceeds to present herself as the candidate to fix these problems, real or imagined. She will be tough on crime and cut taxes. The video is not spectacular and the b-roll is average.

The policies are pretty similar to those of Macron himself. 

  • Yannick Jadot

The official campaign video for Yannick Jadot, the ecologist candidate, is hardcore. 

We never even hear him talking. The first ten seconds show a montage of environmental catastrophes: factories billowing emissions into the air, wildfires, drought, oil spills, dead fish, a sad-looking polar bear, rubbish dumps and Australia.   

The viewer then sees footage of volunteers picking up rubbish and reforesting, activists holding placards, fields full of solar panels and a farmer with a delicious-looking selection of vegetables. It is not until nearly 30 seconds in that Jadot makes an appearance – after Greta Thunberg and Leonardo Di Caprio. 

The music grows increasingly dramatic as we see Jadot in action, walking about, addressing rallies and waving his arms during what appears to be an EU meeting (Jadot is currently an MEP). The soundtrack finally descends into a sort-of bass-line techno beat that suggests that this guy has the energy that it takes to really get things moving in the right direction. 

  • Fabien Roussel

“I like France” is not the most original way to begin an election campaign video. But at least it is direct. 

The main thrust of the video is that the French government has been captured by powerful corporate interests and that the Communist Party candidate offers the best way out and become a “France of hope”. 

The cinematic footage suggest that Communist Party candidate Fabien Roussel also really, really likes walking. And also children – he has five kids, he informs the viewer.

  • Anne Hidalgo 

Much like her campaign itself, Socialist Party candidate Anne Hidalgo’s video falls a little flat. 

It is far less scripted than that of many of the other candidates. The narration itself is a recording of one of Hidalgo’s rally speeches, rather than a voiceover recorded with proper sound equipment in a studio. The levels don’t appear to be professionally mixed and the video editing is very abrupt. 

At this point of the race, the video does little to differentiate Hidalgo from other left-wing candidates. 

  • Jean Lassalle 

We’re not convinced that Lassalle’s video was a priority for him or his team. It’s definitely low budget, but we didn’t expect anything less from this former shepherd known for outlandish behaviour

The entire clip is filmed with a smartphone. Lassalle rambles through a diatribe which has little focus, inviting viewers to come and meet him in his campaign bus. 

“Will that do?” asks the 66-year-old candidate to the cameraman at the end of the clip. Très bien comes the reply. Well, at least he thinks so. 

  • Philippe Poutou 

“We are in this election to upset professional politicians,” says anti-capitalist party candidate, Philippe Poutou, in his video. 

The clip itself is low-quality and blurry, although still outdoes Jean Lassalle’s one when it comes to the edit and ideas. 

We see various footage of people, including gilets jaunes, going on protest marches. The video is narrated by Poutou’s voiceover, which has less of a dramatic sense of urgency than some of the bigger candidates. 

In short, meh. 

  • Nathalie Arthaud

Trotskyist candidate and high-school teacher Nathalie Arthaud has done a pretty good job with her video. The shots are aesthetic and varied. 

Her message is framed in the academic language of class struggle. The ideas are well-argued, but it is perhaps telling that she is alone throughout the entire video. Can her grand ideas actually convince the electorate? Not if current polling is to be believed.  

  • Nicolas Dupont-Aignan 

The fringe sovereignty-focused candidate appears to have spent some money on his video The blurred background but nonetheless steady frame implies top-level camera gear. 

The video is simple and shot without any edits and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan walks towards us and begins to speak.

“It is not the finance of the European Union or NATO to make decisions for you,” he says in his immaculately-tailored suit. 

“Another France is possible. An independent France.”

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Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France’s disabilities minister

France's disabilities minister will not face a new inquiry "as things stand" over a rape allegation that surfaced just after his nomination by President Emmanuel Macron last week, prosecutors have said, citing the anonymity of the alleged victim.

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France's disabilities minister

Damien Abad has faced growing pressure to resign after the news website Mediapart reported the assault claims by two women dating from over a decade ago, which he has denied.

One of the women, identified only by her first name, Margaux, filed a rape complaint in 2017 that was later dismissed by prosecutors.

The other woman, known only as Chloe, told Mediapart that in 2010 she had blacked out after accepting a glass of champagne from Abad at a bar in Paris, and woke up in her underwear in pain with him in a hotel room. She believes she may have been drugged.

She did not file an official complaint, but the Paris prosecutors’ office said it was looking into the case after being informed by the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics, a group formed by members of France’s MeToo movement.

“As things stand, the Paris prosecutors’ office is not following up on the letter” from the observatory, it said, citing “the inability to identify the victim of the alleged acts and therefore the impossibility of proceeding to a hearing.”

In cases of sexual assault against adults, Paris prosecutors can open an inquiry only if an official complaint is made, meaning the victim must give their identity.

Abad has rejected the calls to resign in order to ensure the new government’s “exemplarity,” saying that he is innocent and that his own condition of arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his joints, means sexual relations can occur only with the help of a partner.

The appointment of Abad as minister for solidarities and people with disabilities in a reshuffle last Friday was seen as a major coup for Macron, as the 42-year-old had defected from the right-wing opposition.

The new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said she was unaware of the allegations before Abad’s nomination, but insisted that “If there is new information, if a new complaint is filed, we will draw all the consequences.”

The claims could loom large over parliamentary elections next month, when Macron is hoping to secure a solid majority for his reformist agenda. Abad will be standing for re-election in the Ain department north of Lyon.