The Class (2008)
Teacher and novelist François Bégaudeau plays a version of himself as he negotiates a year with his racially mixed students from a tough Parisian neighborhood.
Teacher François Marin and his colleagues are preparing for another school year teaching at a racially mixed inner city high school in Paris. The teachers talk to each other about their prospective students, both the good and the bad. The teachers collectively want to inspire their students, but each teacher is an individual who will do things in his or her own way to achieve the results they desire. They also have differing viewpoints on the students themselves, and how best to praise and discipline them. The administration of the school tries to be as fair as possible, which includes having student representatives sit on the student evaluation committee. Marin's class this year of fourteen and fifteen year olds is no different than previous years, although the names and faces have changed. Marin tries to get through to his students, sometimes with success and sometimes resulting in utter failure. Even Marin has his breaking point, which may result in him doing things he would probably admit to himself are wrong. But after all is said and done, there is next year and another group of students.
- François and his fellow teachers prepare for a new year at a high school in a tough neighborhood. Armed with the best intentions, they brace themselves to not let discouragement stop them from trying to give the best education to their students. Cultures and attitudes often clash in the classroom, a microcosm of contemporary France. As amusing and inspiring as the teenaged students can be, their difficult behavior can still jeopardize any teacher's enthusiasm for the low-paying job. François insists on an atmosphere of respect and diligence. Neither stuffy nor severe, his extravagant frankness often takes the students by surprise. But his classroom ethics are put to the test when his students begin to challenge his methods... -Jowsie
Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, master French director Laurent Cantet's THE CLASS is an absorbing journey into a multicultural high school in Paris over the course of a school year. François Begaudeau--an actual teacher and the author upon whose work the film was based--is utterly convincing as François, an openminded teacher in charge of a classroom of youngsters from a wide variety of backgrounds. Of course, the mere fact that he's older and in a position of authority causes his students to challenge him on many occasions. François is stuck in the middle. In the teacher conferences, he butts heads with the harsher adults who don't appear to have any sympathy for their students. In class, his attempts to be lenient and understanding are somehow misinterpreted and he finds himself arguing with the kids that he so clearly wants to help. As the school year progresses, tensions rise, until François finds himself in a position he never imagined he'd be in. Unlike his more formally written early films like HUMAN RESOURCES and TIME OUT, Cantet proves that he has an ability to work in a more improvisational manner. Shooting on HD and working with a cast of young non-actors, he allows THE CLASS to breathe, resulting in a fictional drama that has the spirit and energy of a documentary. His startlingly assured ensemble brings the new, culturally diverse France of the early 21st century to striking life. [D-Man2010]
François is a tough but fair teacher working in one of France's toughest schools, and his honest demeanor in the classroom has made him a great success with the students. But this year things are different, because when the students begin to challenge his methods François will find his classroom ethics put to the ultimate test. François Bégaudeau stars in director Laurent Cantet's entry into the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. [D-Man2010]