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Nicholas Philibert - director

Interview

French director Nicholas Philibert talks about his film To Be and To Have

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by Federico Greco

French director Nicholas Philibert talks about his film To Be and To Have.

Is this school anything like the ones you attended as a child ?
“Not in the least. I lived in the city and have bad memories of my school days. I was unhappy, nervous, and unable to adapt to the routine of school to such a degree that my parents moved me around every year. It was thanks to this film that I finally managed to reconcile myself with that institution. “

Where did you get the idea for this film?

“I am not a director who’s always looking for the right story, I leave things to mature and see what the result is. I wanted to make a film about school, from learning about literature to country life, and wanted to make it long before I came across that particular type of school. The search was a difficult one because I wanted to express the very essence of teaching and learning and there are very few schools of this kind around in France. Slightly over 7000. “

How did the project develop? Did you manage to capture the special moments that pass between a teacher and his pupil or was it all prepared beforehand?

"You and your camera have to be accepted by your subjects, especially with a film such as this where the protagonists are children. I managed to shoot the first day, but not before I presented my equipment as trivia. It has to be said that you never know what can happen during the making of a film like this. The tears that Nathalie cries when she talks to the teacher after school is out were not planned for. During the editing process I wondered whether or not to cut that scenes. But if you portray a school of that type, it follows that you must also portray the more private aspects of these people’s lives".

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