“School films show teachers in the middle of a disaster. Is this exaggerated? Not sure »

There is something intriguing about the avalanche of films about school. This is not new, cinema has been inviting itself into the classroom for ages to provide a sense of society. There are teacher films as there are cop films and often the public follows, the spectator awakening the schoolboy in him. These are the current subjects that surprise: less school comedies, more painful thrillers. In other words, school in cinema accompanies a form of disillusionment among teachers.

This week, No Waves and The Abel Trem Affair were released on screens. They join Comme un fils , the comedy Bis repetita , La Salle des profs and L’Innocence on the bill. Amal will be released on April 17. A free spirit, on Salafism at school. We could add a good dozen films over the past year, from several continents, as the educational theme plays across borders.

These films often show how a wrong word from the teacher or his desire to do good turns into disaster, first for him, caught in a spiral of rumors and verbal violence, false accusations and threats, the springs of which have less to do with academic rules than with religion, politics, the prism of identity or sexuality.

Philippe Roth anticipated as early as 2000 in La Tache a climate that could be described as tribal. The American novelist recounts how a literature professor, regarding the recurring absence of two students, descends into hell after asking his class: “Do they really exist or are they zombies?” »

Incidents are increasing

Today’s films do not anticipate a divided society, they are immersed in it. Teachers Samuel Paty and Dominique Bernard were murdered. The principal of the Maurice-Ravel high school, in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, has just taken early retirement after receiving death threats – he had asked three students to remove their veils.

Teddy Lussi-Modeste, the filmmaker of No Waves , also a teacher, confided that one of his colleagues, after confiscating a cell phone in class, was threatened with death by a student’s parent (in L’Humanité , March 26). Incidents are multiplying, almost everywhere, which offend secularism or the content of courses. As a result, school films have changed register.

“In a few years, we went from films that offered an educational and idealistic vision to others that show a traumatic reality,” says Jean-Pierre Obin, former inspector general of national education, author of Comment on a gauche l Islam penetrates the school (Hermann, 2020) and Teachers are afraid (L’Observatoire, 2023).

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