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School of Babel (2013)

La cour de Babel (original title)
How to integrate into French society when you are a young immigrant newly arrived in Paris? Just join the school of La Grange aux Belles where, whether you are named Agnieszka, Eduardo, ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Maryam Aboulgila ...
Elle-même - une élève
Felipe Arellano Santibanez ...
Lui-même - un élève
Miguel Angel Cegarra Monsalve ...
Lui-même - un élève
Brigitte Cervoni ...
Elle-même - professeur de français de la classe d'accueil
Djenabou Conde ...
Lui-même - un élève
Alassane Couattara ...
Lui-même - un élève
Luca Da Silva ...
Lui-même - un élève
Oksana Denys ...
Elle-même - une élève
Souhala Dis
Andréa Drazic ...
Elle-même - une élève
Abir Gares ...
Lui-même - un élève
Ahmed Gaves
Andromeda Havrincea ...
Elle-même - une élève
Marco Jovanovic ...
Lui-même - un élève
Naminata Kaba Diakite ...
Elle-même - une élève
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Storyline

How to integrate into French society when you are a young immigrant newly arrived in Paris? Just join the school of La Grange aux Belles where, whether you are named Agnieszka, Eduardo, Kessa, Maryam or Youssef, you can improve your French and gradually adapt both to the French school system and to the way French people act and think... Julie Bertuccelli followed the days of the special needs class at La Grange welcoming foreign students from all over the world during the 2011-2012 school year and makes us witness to the positive spirit that prevails there under the wise guidance of Brigitte Cervoni, their inspired French teacher. Written by Guy Bellinger

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Documentary

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Release Date:

12 March 2014 (France)  »

Also Known As:

A Escola de Babel  »

Company Credits

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(as Dolby 5.1)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Trivia

French visa # 136.231 delivered on 17-7-2013. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Children are children no matter their situation (slight spoilers)
2 January 2016 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I like films that focus upon the migrant experience in a host country. This documentary follows a Parisian reception class for migrant children over the course of an academic year. The children are aged about 13 and come from many different countries with multiple reasons bringing them to France. The reception class enables them to master the French language sufficiently in order to study other subjects in a regular class. Their aim at the end of the year is to move into a regular class with children of their own age and make a success of their education.

The children are respectful in class and towards their host country even though they express mixed feelings about migrating. The film feels observational but the discussions we see the children engaged in illustrates the film maker's agenda which is to examine what it is like for children on the verge of young adulthood being uprooted and sent to a country whose language they do not know and whose value system differs from what they have lived thus far. The film is poignant and does not sentimentalise the children but there moments of pain. For example we learn that Xin, a Chinese girl separated from her mother aged four and reunited 10 years later is not happy but does not want to return to China. The other pupils find this conflict hard to bear. Then there is Kessa, from Guinea, who is distressed at being separated from her mother but whose distress is minimised as "acting out" by her female relative.

What is most clear is that these children are like any children of their age. Their wants are ordinary as are their needs, although some need comfort and stability more than others. It is clear that the children want to integrate and be accepted even though they are made to feel outsiders in the way they speak French, for example.

The bonds formed amongst the class make for sad feelings at the film's end as they part; some move on and up, others must repeat their year. Their teacher is moving on too and the attachment that some pupils form towards her illustrates the power of education. Learning things, learning facts, learning about relationships and how to become a person. These features do not change because you are a migrant.

One of the myths connected to the Tower of Babel is the belief that the world's multiple languages originated within the tower. This myth is an apt image for class in the film where there is enormous diversity of languages. I was astonished at the many different countries and languages represented and the end credits provide further comment on this as the children are listed alongside their nationalities. If you have an interest in pedagogy and language then this is film is a must.


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