Saturday, September 27, 2008



François Bégaudeau as François in
The Class / Entre Les Murs
Directed by Laurent Cantet, France, 2008; 128m
Photo taken by Pierre Milon, 2007
Property of Sony Pictures Classics / Film Society of Lincoln Center

Laurent Cantet, Director
The Class / Entre Les Murs
with Richard Peña at the NYFF Press Conference
Photos by Eric Roffman for QPORIT

The Class, the opening night film at the New York Film Festival, is a powerful, interesting exploration into the world of a multicultural Junior High School in France, outside the center of Paris.

As it is for children in Junior High Schools all over the world, this is a turbulent age. In France, where there are cultural conflicts amongst and between every minority and majority cultural group, it is especially stressful.

The film was made through a method I call natural adaptive improvisation. The result might be called documentary fiction. First, a class and a school were observed. Then a tentative script was created -- fictional, but based on the observed reality. Then scenes were structured and the children -- real children -- were told the outlines of what needed to happen in the scene and they improvised. Then the improvisations were refined. This gave the children the opportunity to be creatively themselves, at the same time that a larger, well crafted story was being told.

The story is simply one year in the life of a class (
restricted strictly to the space within the walls of the school, as the French title, "Entre Les Murs": Between The Walls makes explicit).

Because the film's subject (
teaching, learning, at the JHS level in a multicultural milieu) is at the very heart of political, educational, and social issues in France -- and everywhere -- it is a most important film.

This film seems to take no sides in any debate on any of the issues that it brings up in the mind of the viewer. It is just
there, a fictional, yet very real documentary.

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