by Haley Cullingham
From his experiences teaching students in a tough multicultural neighbourhood in Paris, real-life teacher and novelist Francois Begaudeau was inspired to create this documentary-like film, illustrating the difficulties of teaching students who are juggling course-work with real world, adult struggles. Begaudeau, who plays a character based on himself, and his fellow teachers, find their own limitations thrown into harsh relief by the outspoken students. Disciplinary decisions take on another dimension when expulsion could lead a young man’s father to send him home to a war-torn village in Africa, and students and parents alike wrestle with the language barrier in their conflicts with the school board. Watch Begaudeau spar with loud-mouthed ladies, iPod nanos clipped to their braids, and tough guys who refer to the principal’s office as Guantanamo and question their teachers sexuality. Moments of genuine pride show through when his students achieve something, and these intensify the frustration he displays when the teenagers are kept from succeeding through factors beyond anyone’s control. The intelligence, honesty and intensity of this film will surprise you.
The Class (Entre Les Murs) opens January 16th