Best Foreign Language Film Nomination: Academy Awards
Genie Awards (Canada): Nine nominations, including Best Motion Picture
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Nomination: Best Actor (Fellag)
“Director Philippe Falardeau brings luminous warmth to this affecting story.” - Brian D. Johnson, Maclean’s
“Fellag’s deeply felt performance is matched by the natural charm of the novice actors whom Falardeau guides to poignancy...”—Peter Howell, Toronto Star
“The film is a small, quiet drama that sneaks up on you and delivers an impressive emotional wallop.”—Liz Braun, Jam! Movies
Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Philippe Falardeau (Congorama, It’s Not Me, I Swear!) and from the producers of the Oscar–nominated Incendies, Monsieur Lazhar is one of the most gripping Quebecois films of the last decade. The film has already received extraordinary attention, including an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film, winning six Genie awards as well voted as Best Canadian Feature Film at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.
Following the tragic and shocking death of a Montreal schoolteacher, Bachir Lazhar (Mohammed Fellag) – a middle-aged Algerian immigrant seeking political refuge in Quebec - swiftly pursues the opportunity to fill the sudden vacancy and come to the aid of the overworked principal and students affected by this tragedy.
To these children in shock, Lazhar’s traditional teaching methods may well provide the structure they need. As more information about Lazhar’s own history is revealed, his struggles and experiences make him all the better suited to guide these children into adulthood.
Monsieur Lazhar is further proof of Falardeau’s talent for drawing out depth and precision from child actors. The fine performances reflect the authenticity of the characters, and the story illustrates how adult hypocrisy and little white lies about death can turn a child’s world upside down when fate strikes.
A complex character study of loss, innocence and imposture, Monsieur Lazhar is a resplendent and tender tale about the lessons we learn from one another, regardless of age. Bachir has much to gain from his pupils, and so do we.