Feature Film and Documentary: School of Babel (La cour de Babel), Julie Bertuccelli, 2013, 89 min.
From the Columbia Maison Française series “Filming at the Borders: Migrating to Europe Today”
WHC Auditorium, 53 Wall Street, New Haven, CT
Introduced by Alice Kaplan and followed with remarks by Morgane Cadieu
Genre: Documentary. French production. Filmed in Paris, France. Languages: French, Arabic, Russian, Spanish, Chinese and more, with English subtitles.
They are Irish, Senegalese, Brazilian, Moroccan, Chinese… They are between 11 and 15 years old and have just arrived in France. For a year they will be all together in the same adaptation class in a Parisian secondary school. 24 students, 24 nationalities… In this multicultural arena, we see the enthusiasm and inner turmoil of these teenagers who, caught in the midst of starting out on a new life, question our preconceived ideas and give us hope for a better future. School of Babel explores questions of identity, culture, the relationship to our native language and to the language of exile, through a character-driven script – Bertuccelli chose to make this film because she sees these teenagers as “real heroes.” Nominated at the French Césars Awards for Documentary, the film met with great critical and popular success in France, so much so that the school where the film was shot, until then considered an institution with “difficult students” to avoid, became an educational model. The film was then theatrically released in 8 countries.
“We will never forget the smile of these teenagers, who are trustful and happy to be in France. But for how long?” (Le Monde)
Special support for this screening is provided by the Department of French, The Whitney Humanities Center, Film and Media Studies, The European Studies Council of The MacMillan Center with special thanks to curator Nora Philippe and Shanny Peer, director of the Columbia University Maison Française