Oscar History

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Recommend Cannes Look-back: "The Class"(Email)

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As we await the Cannes closing ceremony with all its awards glamour,let's take a look back at a previous Palme winner which has connections to a competition entry this year.Here's John Guerin...

The Class,Laurent Cantet's 2008 Palme d'Or winner,left me both exhausted and inspired.An autobiographical chronicle of François Bégaudeau's first year of teaching French language and literature at an inner-city high school in Paris,The Classis an entirely self-contained glimpse into the daily challenges,joys,dead-ends,nuisances,amusements,and tensions in one especially spirited classroom. AlthoughThe Classis spatially confined to the school building,the currents of the outside world frequently wash ashore and brush up against Bégaudeau's attempts to lead a discussion of the imperfect tense or find meaning inThe Diary of Anne Frankor do just about anything constructive.

Cantet and Bégaudeau,with the assistance of co-writer and editor Robin Campillo (director of the underrated 2013Eastern Boysandthis year's Queer Palme winner120 Beats per Minute),smartly avoid clichés of the Exasperated Teacher genre and opts instead for ambivalence over didacticism;there is no breakthrough in Bégaudeau's attitude from frustration to satisfaction,there is seldom a transformation of student rancor into exuberance,there is no "saving"exactly,but the film doesn't descend into cheap cynicism either...

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