The Class (Entre les murs)

entrelemurs DIR: Laurent Cantet • WRI: François Bégaudeau • PRO: Caroline Benjo, Carole Scotta • DOP: Pierre Milon • ED: Robin Campillo • CAST: François Bégaudeau, Nassim Amrabt, Laura Baquela, Cherif Bounaïdja Rachedi

The Class (Entre les murs) is a drama set in a Parisian inner-city state school. It mainly centres on a French literature class in the school. ‘Entre les Murs’ literally means between the walls; the film is set in the classroom and, as we rarely leave the classroom, most of the action happens here. The film is based on the book of the same name by former teacher François Bégaudeau (who appears in the film as the teacher François Marin). The book is semi-autobiographical and is inspired by Bégaudeau’s own experiences as a teacher. The film won the Palme d’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, the first French film to do so in 21 years.

The film follows François Marin for a school year as he teaches French literature to his students and tries to inspire them with his subject. The students of the class are played by real school children and the banter between them and their teacher is very realistic. The shaky camera adds to the whole documentary feeling of the film. This is a very realistic portrayal of a year in a classroom, seeing how a teacher struggles to make his students interested in the subject he’s teaching. Despite some students’ obvious apathy, he doesn’t stop trying. I’m sure that any teachers watching the film would be able to identify with Marin’s frustration with his students.

But do keep in mind, this isn’t a French Dangerous Minds or Dead Poets Society. Like in real life, some students respond to the teacher and some don’t. These are all individuals who will end up going down different paths in life – the film doesn’t end with the students carrying Marin out on their shoulders.

The film is an interesting concept and worth watching. However, I do think that if I wasn’t so long out of the classroom myself I would have found the film more interesting or enjoyable. I have to admit that at times I felt like I had seen all this before, that I knew these people and that I’d even had classes with them. But perhaps that shows just how authentic this film actually is.

Nessa O’Hara
(See biog here)

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
The Class
is released on 27th February 2009
The Class – Official Website

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7th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival Highlights

The eagerly awaited line-up for the 7th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival is beginning to take shape and festival goers can expect the programme to build and expand upon the major successes of the 2008 festival. This year’s programme marks Gráinne Humphreys second year at the helm as festival director and she is planning another showcase of the best in contemporary world cinema along with a glittering array of special guests and high-profile gala events.

Among the first films to be confirmed for this year’s festival include Laurent Cantet’s The Class, unanimously voted the Palme d’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and the first French film to win the award in over 20 years. Featuring a multicultural cast of first-time teenage actors, The Class has been described by critics as ‘utterly engrossing from start to finish’ and creates an astonishingly rich slice of life in a tough Parisian neighbourhood.

Tomm Moore’s animation feature The Secret of Kells is set to premiere at the festival and brings the story of the boy behind the famed Book of Kells to life complete with stunning visuals and music from trad wizards Kila while Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s breathtakingly photographed Three Monkeys, winner of the Best Director prize at Cannes, will feature as part of the special showcase of contemporary Turkish cinema.

This year’s retrospective focuses on Belgian auteur Chantal Akerman, described by the Village Voice as ‘arguably the most important European director of her generation’ and a leading light in experimental, deeply personal filmmaking. Akerman has had a profound impact on feminist filmmaking discourse and has proven herself to be an uncompromising and dedicated practitioner of the cinematic arts.

Finally, after the success of last year’s partnership, Dublin City Public Libraries, in association with the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival are preparing a very special film quiz. Libraries across the city will field teams of three older people (over 55 years) who will compete in the film quiz final on February 7th in Dublin City Library and Archive, Pearse St, Dublin 1.

The 7th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival runs from February 12th to the 22nd. For more information, please visit the website at www.jdiff.com

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