Friday, February 17, 2012

PREVIEW: "Monsieur Lazhar"

By Donna Crain
BIFF Workshops and Panels Coordinator and DigiComm Commando

Monsieur Lazhar
Friday, Feb. 17, 2:45 p.m.
Boulder Theater

Someone asked me what film I would recommend seeing at BIFF this year and I immediately thought of the Academy Award-nominated "Monsieur Lazhar," which I had the opportunity to screen a few weeks ago. It's a quirky story of Bachir Lazhar, who left a tragic past in Algeria, to become a substitute teacher in Canada. Even if you know nothing about Algerian politics (I don't), and don't speak French (it's subtitled) and find dark subject matter like suicide difficult, there's something subtly and strangely beautiful and hopeful about the film. Apparently the film is resonating with many audiences in that way. 

In a recent interview with Canadian public television, the film's director, Philippe Falardeau, explained why he thinks that is so, "In the past, people came to me and said 'we really enjoyed your film' and they were talking about the qualities of the film. Now they come to me and they say 'I was moved by your film, then they start talking about themselves, and how they felt, and how they have a kid that's in school and how it reminded them of a teacher...I think the film touches more people because we've all been to elementary school and we all have our point of entry into that film."

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