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josephk
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Etre et avoir (2002)
08. Apr 2003 at 21:56
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I just have just seen this amazing, award-winning French documentary at the cinema. I don't remember it being mentioned here before, but it's definitely a must-see film.

Hard to describe how powerful this film can be. It's a simple and straightforward documentary about a classroom, the teacher and the kids. The director doesn't interfere and just lets the kids be themselves. He waited for them to get comfortable with the camera and then caught them in their most natural and intimate moments in the classroom.

The kids are all adorable. They range in age from about 4 to 12 (boys and girls). Over the duration of the film, we get to know a few of them pretty well. There are some very cute moments when they do or say things that made the audience laugh. There are also some very touching moments that probably brought tears to the eyes of many viewers, like when one of the boys talks to the teacher about his father who is sick and waiting for an operation.

The boy on the cover is Jojo, one of the youngest (and cutest) of the students in the class. There are some really great scenes with him, several of which are also very funny.

The relationship the teacher has with the students is also very touching. You can tell throughout the film that he loves teaching and that he loves the children. He is a figure of authority, but you can tell that the kids have not only respect but also genuine affection for him. He has been a teacher for 35 years and (when the movie was shot) was planning on retiring in about a year. When he talks about it with the children, and in an interview toward the end of the film (the only time that the director interacts directly with his subject), you can just sense how sincere he is about his work and his devotion to the kids.

Highly recommended! See this if you have the chance. The film played at several film festivals, including Cannes. It is available on R2 DVD from Amazon.fr, with subtitles in English (for once!). Here's the link: (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links) There are a few images from the film on that site too if you click on the cover image.

Check out also this link: (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links) Click on the link underneath the cover that says "bande annonce" to see excerpts (not the trailer, but actual clips from the film). There are three excerpts from the film. The first one is a scene with Jojo and is the best of the three. The second features a girl that has difficulty communicating with others, and the last one is a very funny scene shot with the family of one of the students, as they attempt to solve a math problem in his homeworks. Unfortunately, these excerpts are not subtitled, so they probably won't be that funny if you don't understand French. And that's why you should get the DVD as soon as possible. Smiley

This is the official website: (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links) The website is only in French and is not very well designed. However, if you click on "Les personnages", then on "Les enfants", you will see a group picture of all the kids from the class. By clicking on each of them, you get a slightly bigger picture with their name and their age at the beginning of shooting. The pics are small and not great quality, but still worth a look if you're interested.

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« Last Edit: 04. Jul 2008 at 17:47 by Zabladowski »  
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Zabladowski
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Être et avoir
Reply #1 - 09. Apr 2003 at 01:10
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I saw this last month as part of a Euro-cinema review.  In America it's screening under the title "To Be and To Have."

While I can't say I liked it quite as much as Joseph seems to have, I will wholeheartedly agree that everyone here will enjoy spending a little time in Jojo's world.

This film is profiled in our Movies database
« Last Edit: 04. Jul 2008 at 17:47 by Zabladowski »  
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josephk
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Être et avoir
Reply #2 - 09. Apr 2003 at 01:20
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Thanks for the link to the database profile. I looked but didn't find it, because I was expecting it to be in alphabetical order. (The accent on the E makes it appear at the top of the list, rather than where it should be.)

I guess I hadn't realized that a lot of the humour and emotion is lost in the subtitles. At the screening I attended, even though there were English subtitles, it seemed like the majority of people in the audience (including myself) undersood French fluently. For most movies, I think subtitles are usually good enough for those who don't speak the language to really appreciate it, but this one may not be one of them. A lot of the humour as well as the cuteness of this film has to do with what the kids say and how they say it. Maybe you need to know French pretty well in order to fully appreciate that.

Still, I think Zab is right and most of you will enjoy the film nontheless.
  
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Sir Jacob
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Être et avoir
Reply #3 - 10. Apr 2003 at 15:13
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josephk, thanks for going so in-depth about what we can expect from this one, and especially for telling us which French "words" to click on when we go to the sites where trailers and pics are posted. Smiley

I guess this means I'll have to order from amazon.com.fr again. I've got a region-free dvd player on the way to me right now, that even converts from PAL to NTSC format before it gets to the television. I can hardly wait for that to get here, so I can watch on widescreen instead of just on my computer! :biggrin:

Love,
Sir J
  
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Reply #4 - 10. Apr 2003 at 21:39
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I hope I do get the chance to see it.  I love movies that show adults dealing with genuine concern with kids. 'Small Change' also shows this, but of course its not a documentary.  Thanks, Joseph Smiley

"I've got a region-free DVD player on the way to me right now..."   Sir J, please stop putting ideas into my head!  I'm trying to economize :laughing:

  
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Re: Être et avoir
Reply #5 - 29. Sep 2004 at 05:11
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Defeat for teacher who sued over film profits

Amelia Gentleman in Paris

Wednesday September 29, 2004

The Guardian

It was a moving portrayal of everyday life in the rural classroom, and became an huge and unexpected French cinema success when it was released in 2002.

And, as the star of the prizewinning documentary film, Etre et Avoir, Georges Lopez felt it was only fair that he should get a cut of the €2m (£1.3m) profits.

The director disagreed, triggering an acrimonious lawsuit which has raised uncomfortable ethical questions about the exploitative nature of fly-on-the-wall film-making.

This week a Paris court ruled that the schoolteacher, who allowed his tiny one-class village school to be filmed in lessons and at play over the course of a year, had no grounds to demand a €250,000 (£170,000) payment.

Insistent that his rights had been abused, Mr Lopez said yesterday that he would appeal.

Had Mr Lopez won, French film unions warned, the case would "spell the death of the documentary, undermining the crucial principle that subjects should not be paid to participate."

Mr Lopez's decision to sue the documentary's makers for a healthy share of the profits soured the popular image of him as a modest, selfless schoolmaster.

But he claimed that the film's success rested entirely on his personality, and that his teaching methods, made famous by the film, were his intellectual property.

Mr Lopez said he felt exploited, and launched the legal suit in the face of "lack of respect shown by the cinema world".

He refused a one-off payment offered by the documentary makers of €37,500, insisting he should be treated like an "actor" in the film and be properly remunerated.

A court in Paris ruled that Mr Lopez deserved no payment for taking part in the project.

In a judgment which analysed what constitutes a documentary, the court decided that the teacher had no grounds to argue that he should be treated as an actor because he was filmed as he went about his everyday professional duties.

The court also found he had given consent for his image to be exploited in accepting to be filmed.

Mr Lopez could not be considered a "co-author" of the film because he had not taken part in decisions on how to shoot the documentary.

"The film revealed the great professional skill of the teacher, his thoughts on his profession and the effectiveness of his teaching methods," the court ruled, but none of these were "qualities that could be protected by intellectual property legislation".

French film-making unions were relieved. The Association of French Film-makers said: "The nature and the economics of documentary are incompatible with any principle of remuneration."

The film's director, Nicolas Philibert, visited around 300 schools before selecting the classroom in the village of Saint-Etienne-sur-Esson, Auvergne, where he was impressed by Mr Lopez's dedication and deep attachment to his pupils.

After the film came out, the prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, requested a private viewing.

Philibert spent seven months filming Mr Lopez, 58, for Etre et Avoir (named after the two key French verbs, meaning to be and to have), and admitted feeling "very hurt and deeply distressed" by the legal action, which he viewed as a "betrayal".

French newspapers agreed, reporting the initial claim beneath the headline: "To be and to have: the teacher would rather have."

Claire Hocquet, who represented Philibert, said after the ruling: "I am delighted the tribunal ruled that reality should not be paid for."

She added: "To pay someone who appears in a documentary would be to treat them as an actor, and that would be the death of documentary film-making."

But the legal dispute over the film's profits is to continue later this year, when the families of seven of Mr Lopez's 11 pupils are going to court to seek payment of €20,000 each for their parts in it.

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Re: Être et avoir
Reply #6 - 29. Sep 2004 at 16:02
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Quote:
I hope I do get the chance to see it.



US DVD release in 3 weeks: October 19...
  
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Re: Être et avoir
Reply #7 - 29. Sep 2004 at 17:10
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Thanks for that heads-up!  I'll reserve a rental copy.

Oct. 19th seems to be a magic date.  For those interested, Netflix shows these 2 films also out in region one on the 19th - 'I'm Not Scared' and 'Love Me if You Dare.'

'Valentin' shows a release date of Oct. 12.
  
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Reply #8 - 22. Oct 2004 at 14:05
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If you get the US DVD (at least), don't miss the extras.
For example, there is a bit where the youngest kids recite poems.
  
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