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School of Babel

Saturday, March 8

North American premiere

(La cour de Babel) At a secondary school in Paris’s 10th arrondissement there is a “reception class,” where students between the ages of 11 and 15 are taught their first lessons in French. Some of these immigrant children, newly arrived, know a few phrases in the language of their adopted country; others can’t speak a word. Their families have come from all across the globe, from Ireland, Senegal, Morocco, Brazil, and China, fleeing persecution or just looking for a fresh start. Shot over a year, this observational documentary by Julie Bertuccelli (Since Otar Left, The Tree) is a kind of non-fiction counterpart to Laurent Cantet’s Palme d’Or-winning The Class, staying within the confines of the school and recording the children’s candid, sometimes heated discussions and interactions between parents and teachers. The result is both illuminating and extremely touching, a multifaceted look at the French melting pot, its frustrations and its hopes for the future.

Additional screening Mar 16 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Part of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2014

  • Country France
  • Language In French with English subtitles
  • Running Time 89 minutes
  • Director Julie Bertuccelli