The Class

Date: 1 March, 2009 (All day)
Sorry, you need to install flash to see this content.

Last week I went to see a film The Class - actually its called Entre Les Murs, by Laurent Catenet; it won the Golden Palm at Cannes. It's a riveting semi-autobiographical film with teacher François  Bégaudeau - who wrote an initial film treatment, playing a version of himself - François. Its set between the walls of tough school in a suburb of Paris where François engages a class of 14-15 year olds, of differing cultures, ethnicities, attitudes and abilities in a microcosm of contemporary France.

I heard on the radio that much of the script, and many of the characters were developed by the school youth themselves. The film has the feel of a documentary, and while the method owes much to Mike Leigh, there's a subtlty to the characters that somtimes eludes improvisation. Its a rich, complex, engaging and troubling.

There is a stunning scene where François is teaching French grammar through a reading of The Diary of Anne Frank - the difference between the written and the spoken, and the conjugation of verbs. It plays out as a struggle for power, and underneath the good humour is a battle as fierce and bitter as any. Michel Foucault looms large, especially his analysis of utterance, speech acts and power relations through language.



puenta la ReinaTemporary stairsLittle Green StreetScreen Tests 06Lapdogs of the Bourgeoisiejeannie