The North West Theatre Company Film Club Presents

September 22, 2015

French Canadian Film – An Education Says Film Club.


This Sunday sees one of the highlights of the year for North West Theatre Company Film Club – the brilliant and heartwarming French Canadian drama “Monsieur Lazhar”. Being able to bring films such as this to Bingara is the reason that we have a local film society.

Nobody connected with schooling, education and the science of learning should miss this film.

Shot over only 28 days of filming in Quebec, Canada, but set in the city of Montreal, “Monsieur Lazhar” tells the story of an Algerian immigrant, Bashir Lazhar, who applies to fill an urgent vacancy at a primary school. The circumstances by which the vacancy has occurred are traumatic and highly emotional – the inexplicable suicide of a popular elementary school teacher.

Desperate to fill the position, the Principal accepts Lazhar’s account of his teaching experience in his home country and hires him.

The cultural gap between Lazhar and his young students is evident from the very first day of class, but, despite his difficulty in dealing with the school system’s constraints, he gets to know them quickly and soon wins their confidence. At the same time, no-one is aware of Bashir’s painful past, or his precarious status as a refugee.

Lazhar’s challenges are twofold – firstly to help his students come to grips with the horror of their former teacher’s death, and, secondly, to resolve his personal problems as a refugee and to find a way through his own grief. The cast of this film is astounding.

The role of Lazhar is played by Mohamed Said Fellag – a very experienced actor and playwright in his own country, who has starred in many Algerian movies. The school scenes – obviously most of the film – were done by filming during the summer when the child actors didn’t have their own educations disrupted, and the use of the school itself went uninterrupted. Four days of filming was necessary during winter.

“Monsieur Lazhar” was made in 2011 and directed by Philippe Flardeau. It was adapted from a one-character play. When you see it, it will become clear why the film was selected as the Canadian entry for the Best Foreign Language film at the 84th Academy Awards.

There, it was chosen as one of the 9 finalists in that category- the most difficult of all Oscars to win.

So… Academy Award nominated film shot on a tiny budget in 28 days that goes on to gross almost seven million dollars worldwide at the box office and wins awards at Film Festivals all over the world. What’s not to like? “Monsieur Lazhar” is rated M for mature audiences, runs for 91 minutes, and is in French with English subtitles. As with all Film Club movies it is highly recommended.

Membership of the Film Club makes a lot of sense. And it is easy – just come to Sunday’s screening and it can be processed on the spot. For only $18 members get 4 great films – “Monsieur Lazhar”, “Topkapi”, “The Artist” and the President’s Pick and Christmas party in December.

Join the 40 members who have a great time on the last Sunday of every month!