15 May 2012
This year from April 12-22nd, Filmfest DC brought over 80 international films to the capitol. In its 26th year, the festival put together an engaging 10-day event with 3 special series: The Lighter Side, a focus on International Comedies, Justice Matters, a collection of films about social justice, and Caribbean Journeys, featuring new films from Jamaica, Cuba, Trinidad, the Dominican Republic, and more.
In the Family/Drama category, the number one must-see is Monsieur Lazhar.
Philippe Falardeau, Canada, 2011, 94 minutes, color
For the elementary school kids who experienced the death of their beloved teacher, there is no one who would be able to fill her shoes. However, the 55-year old immigrant from Algeria, Monsieur Lazhar is eager to quickly replace her. He prides himself on his role as a teacher and relishes in the rules and order of the classroom. Extremely different from their previous teacher, this quiet man struggles to be accepted by his students who are unable to relate to him culturally and remain emotionally scarred after the tragedy. He attempts to understand them through persistent personal approaches and begins to unravel their guards against him.
However Monsieur Lazhar himself holds a shadow over his every move. The initial reason for his move to Montreal is hidden within the pain of his family’s past, which is deeply entrenched in the economic, political, and social strife currently disfiguring Algeria. He also faces deportation as an illegal refugee and could be forced to return to the land that is haunted by his past. The movie was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards and touches on the emotional ties of family, and the deep burdens of dealing with death.
Joseph Madmony, Israel, 2011, 105 minutes, color
Delphine & Muriel Coulin, France, 2011, 90 minutes, color