Film en français: Meet ‘Monsieur Lazhar’ & WIN one of 14 double passes

Competition: Win Oscar-nominated film tickets – Find out how below – Ma Vie Française™ & Palace Films – Australia


Bachir Lazhar is a 55-year-old Algerian immigrant living in Montreal. He reads in the paper that the beloved teacher of a year six class has suddenly passed away. Feeling that he can be of help, he turns up at the school to offer his services as a substitute teacher.

An exiled expat’s tale


Director Phillipe Falardeau describes Bachir as a “rich character”: “Bachir has his own backstory, his own history, even before the movie starts.”

But, the story needed to “stand on its own merit”. “I… liked the fact that Bachir’s tragic story of being an immigrant wasn’t the central plot,” he explains.

The purpose of this film’s narrative is not to uncover Bachir’s dark past. It is to use his placement as an outsider to give us a unique view of the world in which he resides.

French fiction representing reality

With a background as rich as that of Bachir, Algerian actor Fellag brings a depth and believability to the character. Fellag studied theatre before appearing on the stage many times before he’d even reached the age of 20. Like Bachir, he found himself exiled from his homeland, spending several years in France and Canada.

On his return to Algeria, he began working once more. In 1995, however, a bomb exploded during one of performances. This was to be the catalyst for his permanent move to Paris.

Falardeau says that finding Fellag in Paris was a revelation: he was the perfect person to bring Bachir to life on the silver screen.

“While he was in Tunisia, the authorities warned him not to return, as there was a fatwa against him,” Falardeau explains. “He has experienced what Bachir went through, and for me that death warrant gave him additional depth.”

Newspapers, blogs, magazines: rave reviews


With so many emotions at play, it is a difficult feat for a director to tug at each heartstring at exactly the right moment, with just the right weight. It’s easy to fall into over sentimentality.

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times says that, “It’s difficult doing what ‘Monsieur Lazhar’ does, conveying the delicate reality of human emotions in a way that engages without being overdone, but this film makes it look like child’s play.”

Patrick Peters of Empire magazine feels similarly: “An Oscar nominee at this year’s Academy Awards and for good reason, Falardeau’s film is moving, smart and sensitive. Terrific stuff, in short.”

The film will be released in Australia on September 6, with special advanced screenings from Friday August 24.

Competition: Win tickets to see Monsieur Lazhar in Australia

Ma Vie Française™ magazine and Palace Films would like to give 14 lucky members the chance to win a double pass to attend an Advance Screening at participating cinemas in Australia.

To win, all you have to do is:

  1. JOIN the Ma Vie Française™ community for free and
  2. In a COMMENT below this article, tell us:
    • About the most inspiring teacher you’ve ever had, or;
    • Why you’d like to see this film.

We will then select 7 of the best answers as winners in our first draw, at 5pm AEST, Tuesday 21 August 2012.

We will then select 7 more winners in our second draw at 5pm AEST, Monday 27 August 2012.

Bonne chance!

Special Advance Screenings on:
Fri 24, Sat 25 & Sun 26 August, and;
Fri 31 Aug, Sat 1 & Sun 2 Sep
Excluding Saturday evenings (5pm & after)
All conditions printed on the tickets

All images courtesy Palace Films

About the Contributor

Hannah Duke

“I’m a Melbourne-based journalist, editor, photographer, and blogger dreaming of la vie européenne. I love all things French except for the pigeons: film, food, literature, fashion, and I indulge in this passion as often as possible! Find me on Twitter, or Google+.”

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  1. tanaya Aug 20, 2012 at 1:24 PM - Reply

    The most inspiring teacher i have ever had in my life is my English teacher when I was in High School. I used to hate English because English teachers back in Junior High would only like the popular students, not to mention if I were to answer questions wrongly, she would say that I did not pay attention, this makes me hate English class.

    But when i was in high school I met this teacher, who were very patient in teaching English, and when i answered the questions wrongly, he would correct me and explain to me so that i understand, he was never angry as well. He inspired me to like English language and to study English well. I went from someone who can barely understand English to someone who constantly getting good mark in English

    If it were not because of that teacher, I would not be able to study in Australia 🙂

  2. Cyndie Bowen Aug 20, 2012 at 2:46 PM - Reply

    I went to see a remedial massage therapist last week in Sydney who happened to be French. She told me about this movie. She went and see it with her Canadian friend recently and she told me it was a beautiful story and that I should definitely watch it if I had the opportunity! So here is my opportunity, please make me win!

  3. Judy MacMahon Aug 20, 2012 at 6:09 PM - Reply

    Please don’t forget to JOIN and make a comment to be eligible to win. You can join here Good luck!

  4. janette Aug 20, 2012 at 10:15 PM - Reply

    My most inspiring teacher was Miss Bazeley. For 4 years she conducted the boarding house choir of which I was a member. She was the most loving and positive person I have ever met. She lived her faith and her love of God and it showed in everything she did.

  5. charles tregouet Aug 21, 2012 at 4:36 PM - Reply

    When I was a kid, the most boring lesson for me was definitely the French class. Grammary, conjugaison, list of words to learn and memorize, long and endless dictations… I hated French because I didn’t understand what all these boring lessons were for. Until I was 16 and I met my new French teacher. This is the person who made me discover French litterature. It was as if I travelled in an exciting new world all year long! Also, she was the person who made me more self-confident when I experienced the hardest moments in my private life. She taught me many things: how to write, how to speak, how to think, but above all, how to be. She is one of the greatest person I have ever met in my life.

    And a mysterious thing! Just before to take the plane in Paris to Melbourne, just before to go abroad alone for the first time of my life to discover a new world, I saw her in te airport. Is it a coincidence?I would never know… ^^

  6. Hella Ibrahim Aug 21, 2012 at 4:45 PM - Reply

    I’ve had a lot of inspiring teachers, but I think my favorite was my year 12 English Literature teacher. She was the firm-but-kind type, and she brought passion and energy to her subject. I liked her because she so obviously loved Literature and she taught her students to love it too.

  7. clairegomolla Aug 21, 2012 at 4:54 PM - Reply

    The most inspiring teacher I had in my life was my economy teacher in highschool. He terrified a lot of students but he was really lovely towards the end and concerned about the success of his students at the final exam. He used to glare at students and was very cynical but I must admit it was really funny in the end when we got used to him and we learned a lot of interesting things.

  8. Judy MacMahon Aug 21, 2012 at 5:44 PM - Reply

    Thank you to the lucky winners of the double passes to advance screenings of ‘Monsieur Lazhar. Another set of winners will be selected on Monday evening at 5pm. We have emailed all winners right now!
    Leave your comment now and before Monday evening and make sure you are in the running to WIN!

  9. anastatia Aug 22, 2012 at 10:18 AM - Reply

    My favourite teacher by far was my grade 7-8 teacher because I’m from a small town in New Zealand he taught everything. I learnt more in a classroom with him for 2 years than in my entire schooling and social life. He was tough and firm but you could tell he loved his job so much as an educator and that made it effortless for me to learn from him.

  10. Robert J. Stove Aug 24, 2012 at 1:51 PM - Reply

    Let’s hear it for Mrs Lennon, who in Sydney during the late 1970s had the dubious privilege of hammering French into the simian skulls of myself and approximately a dozen other Year 12 hormone-bags. I never did find out what Mrs Lennon’s Christian name was, but this I will say: she introduced us – without the smallest perceptible effort on her part – to a new world of Gallic musical culture, populated by such mysterious, alluring monstres sacrés as Édith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Georges Brassens, Georges Moustaki, and Robert Charlebois. Had it not been for Mrs Lennon, I doubt if any of us at that school would have discovered said sacred monsters’ existence. So from this former student, a profound, heartfelt merci beaucoup to Mrs Lennon, wherever you now are, and whatever your Christian name might be …

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