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France, 1998 (MIFF 1999, International Panorama)

Director: Bertrand Tavernier

An ensemble tale about a working-class community struggling against apparently impossible odds, French film mainstay Bertrand Tavernier scripted the film with his daughter and son-in-law, based closely on the latter's real-lite experiences as head of a nursery school in a forlorn former mining town in northern France.

Headmaster Daniel Lefebvre's (played forcefully by Philippe Torreton) work is a constant struggle against intransigent bureaucracy and inadequate resources. One family in particular catches his attention: a young mother fighting despair through a long, hard winter, trying to raise two children without electricity, living on a diet of milk and biscuits.

Tavernier's film scored the FIPRESCI international critic's prize at the Berlin Film Festival for "Its commitment to everyday heroism, its multilayered approach to an array of social problems and for the visual force of the story­telling." Impacting widescreen cinematography and Louis Sclavis' cool, jazz inflected score are further assets.

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