I finally saw the film Être et avoir (Nicolas Philibert, 2002) this weekend. Everything conspired against me seeing it when it was showing in Brighton, so, after months of hearing how wonderful it is, I got to watch it on DVD.
In case you haven’t seen the film, it’s a documentary that spans an academic year in a little school in rural Auvergne, where children ranging in ages from four to ten are all taught together in one class by one teacher. I loved it. It’s one of those films that go way beyond their subject (as the director says in the extra bits on the DVD). The nature of teaching, vocation, childhood, growing up, pain, tragedy, it’s all there.
Films are an amazing tool when learning a foreign language and Être et avoir is perfect for anyone learning French. It’s very easy to follow what’s going on (the teacher teaches, the kids can’t remember what number comes after six) and the dialogues are fairly simple. I remember feeling immensely proud and encouraged the first time I watched a film in English and actually managed to understand a few lines. Even if you think you don’t understand anything, you pick up a few things here and there, which finally gel together after a while. A loooong while, in my case, but it’s well worth persisting.