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Etre et avoir

Etre et Avoir : An exceptional film-documentary

By No author

   When informed that I was going to see a Documentary, `Etre et Avoir' I was unsure about what I was going to find. Was it going once again one of those less than insightful documentaries? Was I going to find myself board after the first few minutes wondering why I had agreed to see it? Of course, I had heard of Nicolas Philibert but was all the hype overrated? It turns out that `Etre et Avoir' was a very insightful documentary about a small single class school in the

star of the film
star of the film

middle of the Puy de Dome in a little village called Saint-Etienne sur Usson. It was not just about the school, it was more about its teacher George Lopez who had been teaching there for the last 35 years and about the 13 pupils in the class and their lives, their families. Nicolas Philibert made an excellent documentary from what could be seen as mundane every day life. He was able over the weeks he was there to capture some fascinating and also critical moments in the lives of these people and present them to us with simplicity.

The film

Nicolas Philibert was there during the screening of the film and was able to explain to us some of his choices and opened somehow more of the intimacy between his characters and us.
First of all, we discovered that this school was not a mere coincidence. He had travelled from school to school over a period of 5 months to pin point the perfect school for his documentary. This is when we discovered that 3000 schools such as this one still exist in France and that out of 3000 he visited 300 spending a day with them on each occasion. How did he determine those 300? They were pre-selected following certain criteria:
- They had to be in a mountain area where the climate would be rude and winters difficult.
- The class had to be small to ensure that all the children could be identified and become one of the film characters.
- The class had to be light and somewhat spacious to be able to accommodate us.
- In addition, if the children had interesting faces then this could be a real bonus.

Lessons in the garden
Lessons in the garden

When he arrived in the class, Nicolas realised instantly that this was the one. He liked the teacher and thought that because he had less than 2 years before he retired, he had nothing to hide. This was something that he mentioned to me after the Q&A when I bumped into him and that we started talking.

He also explained to us that because some of the moments were very intense, he made sure that he had the participants' authorisation before screening the finale version. Without exception, they were all delighted to be part of this amazing experience.

The recognition

It is worth pointing out that Nicolas Philibert was present at the 2002 Cannes Festival and that he was one of the laureate of the `Grand Prix du film Français in Florence'. Nicolas Philibert dedicated his prize to the pupils and their teacher George Lopez. They were without any doubts the film heroes.

Gold Stars for `Etre et Avoir' which was crowned best film of the year by the journalist press in 2002.

Furthermore, the 60th Louis Delluc prize was awarded to Etre et Avoir. This ceremony created in 1937 crowns every year the best French Documentary Film.
To know more
To know more visit the official site In addition, you could enjoy one of Nicolas Philibert's over films: Le Pays des Sourds (the world of the deafs), La Ville Louvre (The Louvre City) and La moindre des choses ( The least possible ).

Our recommendation: Not to be missed.


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