“Monsieur Lazhar” a film from Canada, directed by Philippe Falardeau.
Monsieur Lazhar premiered at TIFF and won Best Canadian Feature Film this year. It is comes to us from the same production team that garnered their film “Incendies” a foreign language Oscarnomination here last year. It is a beautiful, sensitive story. An elementary school in Montreal has had a terrible incident. The grade 6 teacher has hung herself and the body has been discovered by one of the boys (Emilien Neron). The class is very distressed. The school Principal (Danielle Proulx) does everything she can to find a replacement teacher, which proves very difficult.
Coincidently an Algerian immigrant (Fellag) is desperate not to be deported from the country. He sees the ad for the teaching position and presents himself as a candidate with 20 years teaching experience. He gets the job although in reality he has no such experience. His teaching methods are very unusual. Monsieur Lazhar is forced to try and find a way to reach out to the young people. The viewer is emotionally drawn into this little world and becomes very invested in the deep attachment that develops between the students and Monsieur Lazhar.
Phillipe Falardeau based some of his work in this film on his own unique experience travelling around the middle-east for a year making movie segments for a reality show 20 years ago. The experience made him very sympathetic to the reality of being an immigrant. He also missed the opportunity to visit Algeria because of political unrest there at the time. He felt a great connection with the character and the actor Fellag who plays Monsieur Lazhar. The screenplay written by Falardeau is based on a one man play by Evelyne de la Chenelière.