ÊTRE ET AVOIR
TO BE AND TO HAVE

Director: Nicolas Philibert

Cast: Teacher: Georges Lopez
Schoolchildren: Alizé, Axel, Guillaume, Jessie, Johan (Jojo), Jonathan, Julien, Laura, Létitia, Marie-Elisabeth, Nathalie and Olivier.

Awards: Best Documentary, European Film Awards; Prix Louis Delluc (2002).

Running time: 104 minutes
Production: France, 2002
Rating: Not rated (general audience)
Gauge: 35mm (color)

Language: French

Distributor: New Yorker Films


"The interest of To Be and To Have is not sociological: it is not really about the French educational system, rural life, or even the way children learn. It is, rather, the portrait of an artist, a man whose work combines discipline and inspiration and unfolds mysteriously and imperceptibly. The film is also a meditation on the enigma of young lives and minds." A. O. Scott, The New York Times.
Etre et avoir

  Renowned documentary filmmaker Philibert (In the Land of the Deaf), trains his camera on the microcosm of a one-room schoolhouse in a remote mountain village in the Auvergne. Following the school’s twelve students, aged three to eleven, through an academic year, Philibert observes their day-to-day activities, which emerge with such immediacy and naturalness as to make one wonder how he filmed them. His strategy was to integrate himself and his crew into the class, allowing the children to ask questions and play with the equipment until, their curiosity sated, they regarded the film shoot as just another aspect of classroom life. Like an invisible onlooker, Philibert thus captures moments of intimacy and unexpected humor: a child transfixed by a circling fly; two four-year-olds battling with a photocopier gone berserk. At the heart of the film is the school’s stern but compassionate teacher, 55-year-old Georges Lopez, who instructs the students in everything from writing and arithmetic to cooking, while resolving classroom disputes and counselling parents on the side. Shot on film in available light, Être et avoir is a tribute to the art of close, discreet observation, which here yields unassuming beauty and considerable emotional force.

 
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