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School of Babel
Directed by Julie Bertuccelli
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Welcome to a one-of-a-kind Paris education program for immigrant children from around the globe. In her feature documentary debut, director Julie Bertuccelli (SINCE OTAR LEFT, THE TREE) follows one class of students ranging from 11 to 15 years of age as they begin life in a new land.

Hailing from countries across the globe including Ireland, Brazil, China, Ukraine, Tunisia, Venezuela, Guinea and Libya, many of the students at 'La Grange aux Belles,' a school in the diverse 10th district of Paris, are asylum seekers. They must learn French as they combat homesickness, juggle weighty familial responsibilities and recover from the trauma of previous lives of social and economic devastation.

Their teacher, Ms. Cervoni, must exercise as much patience and skill in instructing the students as in her interactions with their parents. As she guides them through a rigorous school year and attempts to prepare them for the transition to mainstream classes, she is a key negotiator in schoolyard conflicts and cultural clashes and navigating complicated dynamics both inside and outside the classroom

"A smart, clear, upbeat movie in which you see firsthand the students dealing with the anxiety about cultural integration." The New York Times

 "An unusually uplifting social study, a collage of journeys to integration as well as maturity, and by simple design a breath of relief in the bogey-ridden immigration debate." —Sight & Sound

"Julie Bertuccelli's enchanting emotional documentary tracks a year in the life of 24 immigrant children. Allowed to be themselves, the subjects speak in a language we understand. It's as simple — and extraordinary — as that." The Evening Standard

"A lively and lovely verité documentary filmed over a school year in a classroom in Paris in which 24 teenagers of 22 different nationalities, often with sad stories to tell and sometimes uplifting ones, all find a voice of their own." The Independent

Best Documentary Nominee, Cesar Awards
Tournees Film Festival
Rendez vous with French Cinema, Film Society of Lincoln Center
Western Psychological Association (WPA) Film Festival
Montana Children's Film Festival
Festival du Film Francais de Tel-Aviv
Istanbul Intl Film Festival
Toronto Kids International Film Festival
San Francisco Film Festival
Crossing Europe Film Festival, Austria
Abu Dhabi Film Festival
Roma Film Festival

89 minutes / Color
French / English subtitles
Release: 2015
Copyright: 2013

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Study guide available

Subject areas:
Adolescence, Anthropology, Conflict Resolution, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Education, Family Relations, France, French Culture, Globalization, High School Use, Racism

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Study Guide Available in Adobe PDF Format

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