French public television journalist team explores Van Horn for Bezos documentary

By Shanna Cummings

Documentary film team Jennifer Luby and Yves Schaffner spent a few days in Van Horn gathering footage and conducting interviews for a French public television documentary about Jeff Bezos. Part of the 52-minute documentary will feature Van Horn in relation to Blue Origin and Bezos’s contributions to the community. The project as a whole includes input from all over the US and Europe, but Luby and Schaffner’s portion focuses on Van Horn and Blue Origin.

The documentary will explore the occasionally local billionaire’s “empire” of product shipping giant Amazon and space travel venture Blue Origin, as well as business tactics used by Amazon, some of which could be considered questionable and aggressive, Luby said. It will also touch on Bezos’s possible tax evasion, she added.

The team filmed parts of Van Horn, including the school, City Hall and a meeting of the Economic Development Corporation, and interviewed residents about how Blue Origin and the proximity of Jeff Bezos has impacted the town.

Luby said Van Horn residents she spoke to have been generally positive about Bezos and Blue Origin, though off the record some expressed frustration and disappointment that Bezos hasn’t contributed more to the community. Others have also said Bezos shouldn’t be expected to contribute to the community beyond what Blue Origin provides through cooperation with the schools and employees living in town.

The team weren’t allowed on the Blue Origin site, and could not interview Bezos.

This portion of the film has encountered a few complications. The documentary’s editors in France were supposed to visit Van Horn in February, but were prevented by the snowstorm. This time, Luby and Schaffner had to cut their work short when Luby tested positive for Covid.

The full documentary is currently expected to air on French public television in April.