THE CLASS (ENTRE LES MURS)
Running Length: 135 minutes
Cast: Francois Begaudeau, Franck Keita, Rachel Regulier, Carl Nanor
Director: Laurent Cantet
Screenplay: Laurent Cantet, Francois Begaudeau, Robin Campillo
Cinematography: Pierre Milon, Catherine Pujol, Georgi Lazrevski
Winner of the Palm d’Or at Cannes 2008 and the official French entry for the Academy Awards, The Class has featured in almost every critics’ “best of 2008” list. A mixture of documentary and organically developed drama make this one of the most authentic films about the classroom I’ve ever seen. Young teacher Francois Begaudeau (playing himself) is determined to instil communal values into his multi-ethnic class. A few students though, are determined not to be patronized and make his job difficult at every possible opportunity.
With a cast made up entirely of real students, the authenticity of the classroom is palpable. No one who has been a teacher, or indeed a student, can fail to recognize the characters presented here. Throw in religious and racial tensions, and you have a powder keg just waiting to explode.
This will quite possibly become required viewing for anyone contemplating teaching, but even for those of us who never wish to set foot in a classroom again, it is a charged emotional experience and one that will not soon be forgotten.