Learning OutcomesDiscuss the representations of Childhood in filmsExplore the representation of teaching, childhood &schooling through documentaryExamine the similarities and distinctions betweenfiction and documentary in the representation ofschooling
Être et avoir2002FrenchDirector –NicolasPhilibert„Starring‟ -GeorgesLopez
OverviewÊtre et avoir is a charming and intimate portrait of a single-class primary school in rural France and its inspirationalteacher. Ranging in age from four to ten, the small handful ofpupils are taught by the remarkable and wise GeorgesLopez, whose patient and enlightened methods highlight agenuine affection for his young charges.Offering a touching and absorbing look at the heart of avillage community, director Nicolas Philibert‟s film was asurprise cinema hit which was warmly received by critics andwon numerous awards including a BAFTA and a EuropeanFilm Award.
SettingSaint-Étienne-sur-Usson, Puy-de-Dôme, AuvergneRural FranceSingle class schoolFilmed over a school yearDecember through June
French Single Teacher SchoolsImage from http://www.ph-ludwigsburg.de/html/2b-frnz-s-01/overmann/baf4/etreetavoir/4o.htm
BackgroundTraditional in rural areas4- 10 year olds taught togetherBy mid 1990‟s just over 20% of French schools were registeredsingle teacher schoolsNumbers are decliningRe the idyllic
Nicolas PhilibertThere are still, almost everywhere inFrance, single-classroom schools that bringtogether, under the same schoolteacher, all thechildren from the same village, from nursery ageto their last year of primary education.Whether their individual members are withdrawnor outgoing, these assorted little groups shareeveryday life, for the best and for the worst.It was in one of these schools, somewhere in theheart of the Auvergne, that my film was shot.
GenreDocumentary?• Subgenre?Fly on the wallRealistFrench Cinema
NarrativeWhat is the story or stories?How is it told? orWho tells it?Who is the film about?What is the teacher‟s story?What are the children‟s stories?
Conventions of DocumentarySerious, factual contentRelates to realityAids our understanding of a topicAnalytical – aims to interpret topic• Present an alternative viewMay have a commentary to aid understanding
Nicolas PhilibertFrench DocumentaryMakerStudied PhilosophyIn the land of the deaf (lepays des sourds) - 1992Nénette - 2010
Fly on the Wall?The story is told by the Teacher & Pupils• Is this the case?Captures the everydayUnobtrusive• Natural setting with the camera
Cinematic Ethnography?Appearance of real lifeScenes where nothing appears to happenEverydayIntimate moments• Nathalie• Olivier
Constructed Reality10 weeks of filming – December – June100 min film• EditingEffects indicate passage of time• Filmed LandscapesCamera intimidated some• E.g. Laura• Become minor characters
Children in CinemaRelatively few preadolescent children in CinemaRecent trend for French films with young childrenas key charactersRepresents a turn, new focus on childrenBut, these are films for adult viewing
Preadolescent TurnPowrie (2005)French preadolescent films focus on childhoodAbuse• L‟Ombre du douteDeath• PonetteExclusion• Les Choristes
Concern over childrenPowrie – films reflect a: -“broader interest in the intersectionbetween institutions and the role ofthe family, with children as potentialvictims of the failure of both”
ContextSignificant increase in French birthsIncrease in divorceIncrease in single parentsFamily breakdownDamaged children?
Concern in Être et avoirOlivier• Father is dying from cancer• See him breaking down• Lopez discussion on work moves to concern about his fatherNathalie• Quiet, shy• Transition to middle school is worrying• Lopez tries to address fears
Concern about leaving –discontinuitiesOlder children are leaving• Difficult transitions• Moving up to school• Leaving preadolescence – loss of innocence?Lopez‟ retirement• But will you still live above the schoolCoupled with continuities• New intake
RetrospectionNostalgic view of childhoodInnocence, purity, freedom, distance from the adultworldRomantic view of childhood – natural world - ruralsettingLandscapes - Aitken
HeterospectionFilm presents a heterotopic viewUtopian site of child represented along other sitesSpace of the child (school) alongside contested spaces(ref – spaces & opposition)Viewer inhabits a heterotopic space• Viewing the child from outside (we are not there)• We empathise because we with the child (fly on the wall)
Contested SpacesUtopian small school vs Middle SchoolSchool vs HomeSchool vs OutsideCollective space vs Intimate space
Construction of the TeacherVocationLives above the schoolDedicated his life to teachingPhysical closeness to the children• MaleRelationship is not sexualised• preadolescent
Intrusion?Viewers view highly personal momentsImage of the children• Jojo is the face of the movieYet sympathetic to characters?Believe it is their story
Unanticipated SuccessConsent for documentary given by Lopez andparentsLopez became a „star‟Represented the ideal teacherBut...
Lopez“We were misled. The production company told meand the childrens families that they were making asmall documentary about the phenomenon of theone-teacher village school and that the film wouldbe used primarily for educational purposes...theysaid it would have a restricted screening and neverdiscussed marketing the film to make it such acommercial venture”
Impact on the Children“We had no idea that it would be in cinemas all overthe country, released on DVD or distributed abroad.One child, who had been very stable and happyuntil the films release, was so distressed by hisunexpected fame, that he started wetting thebed, and became afraid of the dark....Other childrenhave been teased at their new secondary schoolsbecause of their involvement. All have beensubjected to a great deal of stress as a directconsequence of the film”
Court CaseLopez attempted to sue films producers for a share in the €2 million(£1.4m) profits • FailedParents attempted to sue on behalf of their childrenClaimed of misleading, exploitation and harm to childrenLopez‟ fall from graceCourt ruled in favour of Philibert – „stars‟ of the movie were not actors– it is a documentary
Does it exploit?Nostalgic view of childhoodIdolising of the School teacher• Suggest a sympathetic viewYet the impact on the children• Emotional harm• Use of their image
Bibliography Aitken, S. C. (2007) Poetic child realism: Scottish film and the construction of childhood, Scottish Geographical Journal, Vol. 123:, No.1, pp. 68-86 Gentleman, A (2004) „Film‟s fallen hero fights on for his class‟, The Guardian, [Online] Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/oct/03/film.france [Accessed 10th March 2011] Overmann, M (2011) Être et avoir: un film de Nicolas Philibert , [Online] Available at http://www.ph-ludwigsburg.de/html/2b-frnz-s- 01/overmann/baf4/etreetavoir/4o.htm [Accessed 10th March, 2011] Philibert, N (2011) Nicolss Philibert [Online] Available at http://www.nicolasphilibert.fr/ [Accessed 10th March 2011] Powrie , P (2005) „Unfamiliar places: heterospectionand recent French films on children‟, Screen, Vol. 46, No.3, pp. 342-352 Tobin, J. And Hsueh, Y (2007) „The Poetics and Pleasures of Video Ethnography of Education‟, in In R. Goldman (Ed). Video Research in the Learning Sciences. NY: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates