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School of Babel


France (89 mins, dir. Julie Bertuccelli)

“Straightforward, affecting and insightful, the film at times plays like a documentary companion to Laurent Cantet’s Palme d’Or winner, The Class.” – Hollywood Reporter

Shot over a year in a ‘reception class’ at a multicultural secondary school in Paris, School of Babel introduces us to a group of students from all over the world, learning about the French language and culture to assist with their integration into their new school and lifestyle. Some come from stable families who moved to France for work opportunities; others have fled hardship and persecution.

Filmmaker Julie Bertuccelli (The Tree, MIFF 10) embedded herself and her camera in the class over the course of a year, capturing the struggles and breakthroughs as these vulnerable, but strong and determined, young students grapple with homesickness and the difficulties of adopting a new way of life. The result is both lucid and moving.

GENRE: Documentary

KEY THEMES: Cultural differences, cultural assimilation, learning a new language, economic hardship, persecution, education

SUITABLE YEAR LEVELS: Junior secondary +

LANGUAGE: French with English subtitles

CURRICULUM LINKS: Languages (French), Personal Learning, Interpersonal Development


  • Accepting and valuing cultural differences.
  • Appreciating the difficulties of learning a new language and adapting to a new culture.
  • Being aware that some people are not as fortunate as others.
  • Understanding the importance of classroom-based learning and education.

School Screenings

Tuesday 5 August, 1.30pm at ACMI Cinemas

Tuesday 12 August, 11am at ACMI Cinemas