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Jacques Renard
1981 France 4 x 60 minutes French

Presented by Brice Amouroux, co-director of the Data & Technologies department at INA – Institut National de l’Audiovisuel

Episode 1 : La Mine | Episode 2 : La Mémoire | Episode 3 : Le Cœur | Episode 4 : Le Corps

This documentary series, directed by Jacques Renard in 1981, retraces seventy years of life in the mines through the testimonies of miners from the Nord-Pas-de-Calais coalfield. Confronted with numerous archival documents, the protagonists tell their stories and reflect on their past and present history. These four episodes (The Mine, The Memory, The Heart and The Body) shed light on the beginnings of coalmining, its working conditions, social and political struggles, the different technical evolutions of the miners’ work and the decline of the sector. Mémoires de la mine is unique in the history of French television documentaries because of its scope: never before have such life and career stories been recorded. Mémoires de la mine won the Prix de la critique and the Prix de la Société des Gens de Lettres.


The National Audiovisual Institute is a state-owned company created in 1975 to collect, preserve and enhance French radio-TV heritage. After more than twenty years of large-scale digitisation with 2 million hours of programs, INA is more and more focused on promoting its collections through a pro-active editorial policy. Beyond digitizing and indexing, restoring is also a way to enlarge access to rarely-seen/heard images and sounds for today’s audiences.

Photo credit: © INA – La Mine

Jacques Renard

Born in Béthune (north of France) in 1944, Jacques Renard has long sought to show the real life of minors, the history of this unknown working class. After his first movie in 1976 (Monsieur Albert), he started working on collecting seventy years of oral history, from 1914 to 1980, covering four generations of minors. A coalmining company allowed him to shoot in safe conditions and, for the first time on TV, the audience watched the extreme working conditions in several mines. “My work as a filmmaker was to use the memory of the miners to make the viewer discover that this memory was hidden, that the people never had the right to speak, that those who spoke for them generally had a discourse that varied according to political and economic needs. My work as a filmmaker was to humbly collect their memory as best as possible, to put in place a system that would allow them to speak with confidence and to have access to what others had said.” He continued his career in cinema with the film Blanche et Marie in 1985 and has since devoted himself to writing and directing documentaries and fictions for television.

Production :
INA - Institut National de l'Audiovisuel
Restorer :
Contact :
Brice Amouroux -
Progress stage :
Episodes 1 et 2 completed, episodes 3 et 4 in progress
Availability Date :
June 2022