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TO BE AND TO HAVE

France, 2002 (MIFF 2002, Documentaries)

Director: Nicolas Philibert

To Be and to Have (in Official Selection at Cannes this year) follows an academic year in the lives of a dozen youngsters, aged 4-10, who are taught every subject, from math to gym, by one dedicated teacher. Any negative stereotypes viewers might harbour about education in rural communities are sent packing by this magnificently filmed and cumulatively touching account from veteran documaker Nicolas Philibert.

"The schoolhouse serving a village in France's Auvergne region is both cosy and modern, outfitted with a wood-burning fireplace and computers ... Philibert captures inner mindscapes being formed whatever the outer landscape dishes out. For a young country kid, learning to count can be as exotic an adventure as learning to milk a cow is for a city kid ... One boy's entire family watches him do multiplication tables in the kitchen and the very fact that everybody gets into the act is entertaining.

"The film reflects the sheer beauty of two professionals - a teacher teaching and a documaker documenting. Charting the passing seasons with a brief but eloquent sampling of vistas, Philibert communicates an indelible and slightly surreal sense of pace." - Variety

Nicolas Philibert (born in Nancy, France, 1951) has acted in, written and directed numerous films since the early 70s. As a director, his previous films include Louvre City (1990), Land of the Deaf (1993), Every Little Thing (1998) and Qui sait? (1999).

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