Screened as part of NZIFF 2012

Monsieur Lazhar 2011

Directed by Philippe Falardeau

Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, Monsieur Lazhar is a flawlessly acted, sensitively understated teacher/student drama that accumulates surprising, affirmative, emotional power. “A really great movie.” — Village Voice

Canada In Arabic, English and French with English subtitles
94 minutes CinemaScope


Luc Déry
Kim McCraw


Philippe Falardeau. Based on the play by Évelyne de la Chenelière


Ronald Plante


Stéphane Lafleur

Production designer

Emmanuel Fréchette

Costume designer

Francesca Chamberland


Martin Léon


Fellag (Bachir Lazhar)
Sophie Nélisse (Alice)
Émilien Néron (Simon)
Danielle Proulx (Mrs Vaillancourt)
Brigitte Poupart (Claire)
Louis Champagne (janitor)
Jules Philip (Gaston)
Francine Ruel (Mrs Dumas)
Sophie Sanscartier (Audrée)
Seddik Benslimane (Abdelmalek)


Locarno, Toronto 2011
Sundance, Rotterdam 2012


Best Canadian Feature, Toronto International Film Festival 2011
Nominated Best Foreign Language Film, Academy Awards 2012


An Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film and deserving winner of every key Canadian film award this year, Monsieur Lazhar is a sensitively understated teacher/student drama that accumulates surprising affirmative emotional power. Monsieur Lazhar, an Algerian immigrant in Montreal, is a mysterious, high-minded, rather old-fashioned individual who puts himself forward as a substitute after the tragic death of a popular teacher. The children have been left traumatised and Lazhar addresses their distress, delicately, but in much more direct terms than the school authorities and some parents deem appropriate. Though secure in his convictions, he’s no crusading hero, still harbouring trauma of his own and evading close scrutiny from his fellow teachers. This is not a film with villains, but it generates aching sympathy for Lazhar's transgressions of accepted form. Basing his script on a one-man stage play by Évelyne de la Chenelière (who has a cameo as a mother in the movie) director Phillippe Falardeau draws flawlessly nuanced performances from actor Fellag and from young Émilien Néron and Sophie Nélisse as the two children most in need of intervention, one craving it, the other avoiding it at all costs. — BG 

Monsieur Lazhar sustains an exquisite balance between grown-up and child’s-eye views of education, teacher-student relations and peer-group interactions. The students come quirkily alive in superb, naturalistic performances devoid of cuteness and stereotyping. Like no other film about middle school life that I can recall Monsieur Lazhar conveys the intensity and the fragility of these classroom bonds and the mutual trust they require.” — Stephen Holden, NY Times