Wait & Sea

In Brexit’s Troubled Waters


A film by Simon Coss and Antoine Tracou

History is first and foremost about people’s lives and Brexit’s no exception to the rule. This sudden, surprising, angry break-up has sent shockwaves across a faltering European Union struggling to define its sense of purpose. By brutally separating the UK from its partners, Brexit has left millions confused, scared and unsure of their futures. The shock is particularly palpable in France and the UK, two countries both separated and united by La Manche/The English Channel with a symbiotic love-hate relationship that pre-dates the European Union by centuries.


This project was born out of all that. Simon Coss, an English film maker who’s lived in Brittany, France for over 20 years with his French wife and two sons, suddenly felt pushed into taking French nationality just to be sure he could continue coming home to his family every evening. His life was changed in a very real and traumatic way by Brexit. He needed to connect with other people in the same boat. He spoke with his French friend and colleague Antoine Tracou, and the two decided to make a film together. But they needed a focus, a story, a setting. Very quickly they agreed on fishing.


Brittany is one of France’s major fishing regions. Boats based in ports here spend a huge amount of time catching fish in UK waters. Without this access many could go out of business. Across the Channel, UK fishermen voted massively to leave the EU, furious at European rules that allow foreign boats to catch more fish than they can in their own seas. But, in a perfect Brexit paradox, around 80 percent of catches landed by UK boats end up on French or Spanish dinner tables. Simon and Antoine chose to concentrate on two fishing communities, Gulivinec in south Finistère, France and Newlyn in the UK county of Cornwall. Boats from both ports spend much of their time fishing in the same dangerous seas, between Cornwall and Brittany. These are people who do the same jobs. They have the same fears, the same hopes, the same destinies. For over forty years they have been working side by side under the same shared rules.


Brexit will change that. How? Wait and Sea.