Monsieur Lazhar (2011) Script



Where were you?

I'm here, aren't I?

Isn't it your turn for the milk?


Where you going?

The milk.

Keep your jackets on! We're going back outside.

No questions, back to the yard.

Turn around. Grab your things. No pushing.

No questions.

Don't ask why. Just turn around and go back.

Come on, kids! Alice, you too.

Alice, get back here!

I know that last week was very hard.

We have to support each other.

We'll get through this together, with the help of the teachers, parents, and our psychologist, Julie Latendresse.

Julie is going to help us talk about what happened last Thursday.

There's only one psychologist for the whole class?

Today, we'll evaluate things and, if necessary, we'll make adjustments.

It's very important that if ever one of you is feeling sad, you tell us.

Not just today, but in the days and weeks ahead too.

I hope you sleep better than last week.

Even when I'm away.

I can't always be here.

I'll be home tomorrow, but Saturday I'm away.

Sweetie, I told you, right?

They can do art this afternoon.

Find a project. Then give them something to read.

So they see that school's going on.

When's the replacement coming?

I'm going through my list. No one's available.

No one wants to work here now.

What if a child breaks down?

Audrey, you have to be strong.

Breathe through your nose today.

Gaston, you can put away your whistle.

Shit! Mrs Vaillancourt?

Are you a reporter? No.

Bachir Lazhar. Hello, Mrs Vaillancourt.

I let myself in.

You're the father of...?

I'm not anyone's father.

Yes? I'm here... for the position.

Was I expecting you?

No, it's on my own initiative.

I saw the news in the paper.

It's not to take advantage of the situation.

The situation is complicated and the students are my priority.

It's terrible what they've been through.

Well, I'm a schoolteacher.

I taught for 19 years in a grade school in Algiers.

I'm a permanent resident of Canada now.

Sorry, that's not how it works, Mr Bachir.

Mr Lazhar.

Right. Sorry, Mr Lazhar.

Have you named a replacement?

No, but there are procedures to follow.

Of course.

The bureaucracy, the curriculum, the Ministry...

I know, I know.

I'm available now. They need a teacher, right?

Here's my number and my CV.

I love children. As you do too, I'm sure.

So, part-time, full-time, overtime...

It's up to you.

My parents are freaking.

Not you?

I hear Gaston's replacing her.


You're not serious!

I bet he can't even write.

Shit, why'd Martine have to do it?

I saw her too.

What origin is that?

I knew she was going to ask that! I knew it!

Bachir means "bearer of good news."

And what's the good news?

No homework with Bachir Bazaar!

And Lazhar means "lucky".

And the good news is, I'm lucky to be here with you.

As for my origins, I'm from Algeria, where I taught for 19 years at the Mouloud Feraoun College.

Well then...

Tell me, how old are you?

11. 12.

Vic's 13, but he's a mental retard.

That's not funny.

Alright, I'll take attendance.

From the left...

Shanel Soucy.


Soucy with an I?



Jordan Vadeboncoeur.

Va-de-bon-coeur. Is that right?

Yes. "Vadeboncoeur." Lovely.

Victor Garrido-Lariviere.


My dad's from Chile.

Yes, but with one or two Rs?

Two, and one in Lariviere, but no accent.

Abdelmalek Merbah.

Marie-Frédérique Caron-McCarthy.


What would your children's name be if you married, say, Garrido-Lariviere?

I'd never have a baby with Vic!

If they have a girl, she should take the mom's name.

And if they have a second...

A second? There won't be a first!

Please. Children, please!

What's that?

I'm taking your picture.

You have to ask permission first.

Take it easy, mister!

Please show more respect.

The desks arranged in a semi-circle...

Is that intentional?

Martine did that to encourage group spirit.

Let's place your desks in straight rows.

Yes, yes.

Come now.

Quietly, quietly! Keep it down, please!

Don't disturb the other classes.

That's enough!

Alright now.

Stand up.

What is it?

That's where Martine hung herself.

Mrs Vaillancourt, sorry. May I have a word?

If you don't mind...

Did you consider a change of classrooms?

Yes, but there's no free room.

That's why we repainted and removed everything related to Martine.

Right, the fresh paint.

Do you think that's enough?

I thought of switching classes, but it's like dumping your snow in a neighbor's yard.

Yes, and there's enough snow as it is.

Bachir, Shanel's parents came to see me.

She's changing schools.

She has nightmares, she refuses to come.

This is her last day.

Are you ok? Fine.


And are you ok?

Yes, sure.


Mr Bachir?

We go meet our class.


Desks lined up straight. Years since I've seen that!

You don't have to go out. You can wait here.

No talking, kids.

Follow me.

"My eleven hundred francs"

"would ensure my sustenance for three years."

"I allowed myself this time to create a work"

"that would draw public attention to me"

"and make me either a fortune or a name."

"I relished the thought of living on bread and milk"

"like a hermit in the Thebaid,"

"immersed in the world of books and ideas,"

"a sphere unattainable"

"in Paris with all its tumult,"

"a sphere of work and silence,"

"where, like a chrysalis,"

"I would build my own tomb"

"and await my brilliant and glorious rebirth."

That's from La peau de chagrin by Balzac, whom you must know.

So we'll write a short dictation, to determine your level.

Not the text you just read!

Take out your pencils.

"My eleven hundred francs..."

"My eleven hundred francs..."

Sorry, who is under Frank?

Silence, please.

"Would ensure my sustenance"

"for three years."

We'll write a short dictation, to determine your level.

Martine never would've chosen that dictation.

Do you often think of Martine?

At night.

Do you have nightmares?


And when you can't sleep?

I read.

Here, this is for you.

It's too weird.

You should've given it to her.

To apologize.

There's spaghetti in the fridge for tonight.

Fine. And money if you need it.

No problem. Does she have homework?

Alice? No, I don't.

I have to go.

I'll be back late at night tomorrow. Remember?

I found someone to replace me next week.

I'll be home all week.


You'll tell me about Mr Lazhar? Sure.

I can't wait.

My kiss?

I gotta QQ

What's that?

"The general areas..."

Good evening. Hello.

I have a parcel.

Just a minute.

That's my favorite jam!

Mine too. Thanks.

Goodbye. Goodbye.

The lawyer won't try to trip you up.

This isn't a civil or criminal case.

So answer as we've discussed.

Fine, I understand.

But the commissioner will grill you. Answer him carefully.


A case of jam?

My wife's belongings.

Forgive me.

No problem.

Are you able to sleep?

Not much.

Do you have nightmares?

You should see a psychologist.

No, I don't need one.

Well, it's up to you.

But reread your initial statement.

To refresh your memory for the hearing.


I was less than dazzled.

That was prehistoric French!

We never did dictation. Never?

Not Balzac, anyway.

Martine gave us team presentations.

Well, I'm your teacher now.

But I admit it was a poor choice.


I wasn't aiming at her!

Regardless, it was uncalled for!


You should apologize to Simon too. Pardon?

You should apologize to Simon.

What for?

We're not in Saudi Arabia here.

Thank goodness we're not in Saudi Arabia!

Only one of you spelled "chrysalis" properly.

I suspect it was an accident.

Sit properly, Abdelmalek!

What is a chrysalis?

A flower.

You're thinking of a chrysanthemum.

Anyone else?

A chrysalis is an insect stage between caterpillar and butterfly.

In a tiny, fragile cocoon, preparing to spread its wings, like you.

He talks like Balzac!

To find the subject, you ask:

Who or what would sustain me?

It's a DP.

A What?

A determiner phrase.

So, to find the subject... we ask "Who?" or "What?" So...

What would sustain me? My 1,100 francs.

"Francs" is the subject.

"My" is the personal adjective...

It's a determinant. A possessive determinant.

Personal adjectives don't exist any more.

My mom says they still exist.

Your mother and I share one grammar.

Boris! Would you like a pillow?

It's a migraine.

But you're not allowed to give him aspirin.

Right, I forgot.

Hello. Please come in.

Thank you.

You remember the psychologist?

Hello, everyone. Hello.

Put away your things.

Mr Lazhar?

Mr Lazhar?

Could I see you?

It won't be long.

I've thought it over and I'd rather their teacher not be present.


To separate psychotherapy from pedagogy.

So they can talk freely.

They talk very freely, believe me.

Of course. I understand.

You understand what?

I understand how you feel. Really?

But let's try it my way.

As you wish.


Things are good with the class? Very.

Thank you.

Native spirituality.

What do I mean by Native?


Indians. But do I mean Indians in India?

North America.

North American Indians, right, or peoples of the First Nations.

Now who remembers what we call the holiday that is celebrated in summertime by all First Nations?

The Pow-pow.

No, the pow-pow is more for cowboys.

Any other ideas?

The Pow-wow. Very good.

Now open your books to page 81 You'll do it silently in 5...

4, 3, 2, 1...

Miss Claire!

Now, staying with Native spirituality, who can explain in their own words what a shaman is?



Things well?

Claire's great.



I'm not looking.

How's the class?

Very well, thanks.

The paint fumes?

No, they're gone now.

This is a summit meeting.

What summit?

The male contingent. With you, there's 50% more of us.

Right, strength in numbers.

This is a woman-ocracy here, you'll see.

I can't complain.

Well, you're your own boss.

The king of the cans.

Well, I'll be off.

Good luck!

Thanks, you too!

What's that game?

King of the Hill.

King of the Hill...

I saw pictures of Algiers on the Web.

It's so beautiful, all white and blue.

Yes, they call it Algiers the White.

Here it's more, Montreal Slush City!

It's white, grey, and dog-pee yellow.

That's not true.

Know what struck me when I came?

All the green. Trees everywhere...

Get down from there!

Boys, I've told you many times!

Simon, Abdelmalek!

Come on.

In French, please, Abdelmalek.

A boys' game.

It's a bit violent.

Rough, perhaps.

How's your class?

Fine, thanks.

Thank you!

Enjoy your lunch, Bachir. Thanks.

It looks delicious.

Some tea?

No, I'm good, thanks.

The Ministry may contact you about your license.

Tell them to call me.

Could you fill this out for me ASAP?

Certainly. So much paperwork!

"Students' Rights and Duties."

I have a copy.

For your dictations, you'll need to adjust. Balzac...


And I wanted to mention... the law forbids teachers to hit a student.

I completely agree.

Taps, pulling an arm, even hugs...

No contact whatsoever. Zero tolerance.

But I never hit anyone!

Gimme a break!

Of course, I'm not accusing you.

It's a reminder. For everyone.

Centuries ago, I'd twist their ears. Always worked.

It wasn't centuries...

20 years, you mean.

Lord knows some deserve it. I administered a few...

But now I'm administering a school.

No big deal, Bachir.

But ahead of me in line was this fat lady...

I mean, fat! Humungous!

So I'm waiting in line...

I brought some books that are easier for dictation.

You'll like this one.

Jack London.

White Fang. Thank you.

English... Who's your English teacher?

Martine Lachance.

Fat chance!

Teaching you English before you've mastered French...

Tell us about Algeria instead.

I think it's a better idea to study our conjugations.

Simmer down. Silence, please!

Silence! 4, 3, 2...

4, 3...

Mr Lazhar!

I had lots of nosebleeds at your age.

I had a crush. When she spoke to me...

Do you have a crush?

Thank you.

Good bye.

Want a lift?

Pardon me? A drive home?

No thanks. You're very kind. Goodbye.


The threats were directed at your wife, correct?


After her book came out.

Then at the whole family.

Describe the threats.

They spoke of traitors, execution, death...

Constant death threats.

Counselor, I see your client studied his vocabulary.

My client received death threats. I advised him to use that term.

I assure you the threats were very real.

You were a teacher?

No, your wife was a teacher.

You were a...?

Civil servant. Until 1994.

Then I ran a café-restaurant.

Why was her book so problematic?

Yes. The '90s are over. Algeria is back to normal.

Algeria is never completely normal.

Well, the attacks have stopped.

If I may, last month, there were five attacks, two outside Algiers, three...

Thank you. I have those clippings...

So, your wife's book...

It criticized the policy of national reconciliation.

Many criminals were pardoned.

Religious extremists, but also policemen, soldiers, who had committed murders.

When a woman speaks out, it angers people.

When you arrived here, you asked for

"political asylum in the Republic of Quebec."

"Confederation of Canada" isn't clear.

Many would agree.

You stated your family was in danger, yet you came alone.

Indeed, why did you abandon your family?


I didn't abandon them.

I came here to prepare the way.

My wife's visa arrived after mine.

She wanted to finish the school year.

She was threatened, but you left.

We were all threatened.

But not so convincingly that she left.

What does that change?

Mr Lazhar...

Convincing or not, what's it change?

Not convincing? That's not what he meant.

She died. They all died.

I don't deny that, but... the entire building burned.

With many flats. They may not have targeted your wife.


There were many flats.

Look... tell us the facts.

My wife was meant to leave on June 25 at 5 a.m., hidden in a delivery truck.

My brother-in-law had found a driver.

She was planning to leave for Tunisia with the kids.

That night, the building burned.

Someone must have known about it.

They were all killed.

My wife, Nourredine, Annissa...

They burned to death.

Except for Annissa, who died when she jumped from the third-storey window to escape the flames.

No, it's no good.

Look there.

That way.

Turn sideways. Like this.

You guys, the other way.

The other way, make a V.

Shoulders like this.

This way.

Like at a wedding.

Bachir, get in the picture.


We want the new teacher.

There's a place here.

Place mat!

A nice spot, I mean.

Spot mat!

Speak French!

In three, what do we say?


We could say, Bachir!

Good idea!

We'll say Bachir!

Sure, that's good!

In 3,2,1...

For those who are ready to put strips of paper on their fish, too much glue is as bad as too little.

When you take the strip, squeeze it between your fingers to wipe away the excess glue, so it doesn't drip all over.

Simon, there's a little problem.

When you glue the strips... Here, look at my fish...

Graffiti can be social, political or racist.

Or it can be advertising or decoration.

Now they put bars on ground-floor windows to protect them and stop vandalism.


In conclusion, violence at school isn't just about fighting and taxing and all that.

Tell me, is stealing the same as vandalism?

No way! Stealing isn't destructive. It's not violent.

Think before you speak, Vic!


Your argument and your photos were strong.

But watch your French.

My school is beautiful.

My school is beautiful!


Cut it out!

I listened to you. Now it's your turn!

Go on, Alice.

My school is beautiful.

Maybe not the most beautiful, but it's mine.


At first, when I started coming here, my mom kept saying how nice it was.

Personally, I found it ok...

But now, six years later, I also think it's really nice.

Because it's mine.

A big yard to play soccer and basketball, where parents drop their kids off in the morning.

They take care of us, check to see if we have lice, how our teeth are, if we're aggressive or hyperactive.

But this nice school is where Martine Lachance hanged herself.

With her blue scarf from the big pipe on a Wednesday night.

My mom was in Miami because she's an airline pilot.

I wish she had come back right away because I really had a tough time.

Martine must've been discouraged with her life.

The last thing she did was kick her chair to make it fall over.

Sometimes I wonder if she wasn't sending a violent message.

When we're violent, we get a detention.

But we can't give Martine Lachance a detention, because she's dead.

"It's hard to know if Martine's message was violent."

"We can't mix things up."

"School shouldn't be violent."

"You punish violence with detentions."

"We can't give Martine Lachance a detention,"

"because she's dead."

Such maturity, don't you find?

How'd they react?

There was a silence.

They were troubled, I think.

But it did them good.

I'd like permission to distribute the text to the whole school.


The text shows a desire to communicate, to talk about death.


May I ask why not?

I find the text violent.

That was the theme, violence and...

Even so.

It's life that's violent, not the text.

It's not at all macabre.

It lacks respect for Martine.

Did she respect her students by hanging herself in class?

Bachir, please!

I'm sorry.

Let the psychologist do her job I want no insubordination.

Very well. It was simply an idea.

The class is doing well, grades are good... miraculous, considering what you ask.

I don't want any waves, ok?

Alice L'Ecuyer, is there something you want to say?

Because if there is, say it to my face.

Do you have anything to say?

What did I do to you?

Not what you did to me. What you did to Martine.


What you told everyone.

You don't know anything. You're dumb!

Well, in that case, beat it.

Stop following me like a stray dog.

She's always competing with others, she's never satisfied.

But she's a dynamo...

When you see their eyes sparkle, you know they've understood.

Of course, there are the odd B...

Marie-Frédérique can sometimes behave with the others in a way that's... assertive.

She's always right.

For example? She loves to cite the rules.

You're new, so of course she knows the school better than you.

Students aren't in a position to judge teachers' behavior.

She's a very good student.


I sometimes find her attitude a bit... rigid. Yes.


So, Mr Lazhar, since she's a child, she should behave more like one?

Yes, you could say that.


I think that with the death of her teacher, your arrival here, your different methods... my daughter is trying to hold on.

She's been very strong. Absolutely.

Not rigid!

It's obviously been hard for you as well.

You're not from here, so of course certain nuances escape you.

But be that as it may, we prefer that you teach our daughter, not try to raise her.

I just wanted to say, the kids have come a long way.

They're much more at ease.

We can soon end our sessions.

In a few weeks, they'll be cured? Tremendous!

They're not sick, even if the class looks like a hospital.

You know, a little color...

Next week, Arabic class.

Children, where are your manners?

I know why you like this story. Why?

The wolf lets himself be tamed, but he remains wild, independent.

Wolves are my favorite animal.


It's for grown-ups, but you're grown-up enough.


Boris, get some air.

It's easy. Put on your coat, open your eyes, open your nostrils.

Breathe, run around, play.

Fly away if you can.

You'll see that your migraine has flown away too.

And when you come back, you'll find me sitting quietly, still alive, sharpening pencils.


Sire Stanley, bad news! What now?

Listen, Mélanie, it's Sir Stanley.

It's an English title, say it right.

And try to project more, ok?

Keep going.

We lost our compass!

We'll do like the ancients.

We point the compass rose to the east.

Imagine all that Livingstone missed.

The transatlantic telegraph.

The Suez Canal.

I, Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III, declare the 162-km-long Suez Canal open!

What will you say to Livingston?

I'll say, Hello, I presume.

Sorry. Forgive me.

It's wonderful!

Don't stop!

How's the play?

Good. The kids are enjoying it.

What did you think?

I liked what I saw. It's droll, candid...

Candid, really?

I mean, it's chock-full of information, joyous, but offers a Romantic vision of the colonial period. Yes.

True, I could've talked about the Belgian Congo, the pillaging, amputations...

I've offended you.

No way. It's a welcome change from empty compliments.

I haven't been in here since Martine's been gone.

It's hard to understand why anyone chooses to kill herself.

But impossible to understand why she did it here.

Party time?


They look delicious. What are they?

These are mak rout el louz, and these are tchareks.

Tchareks. Thanks!

Dance with me, Mr Lazhar.

What will people think?

Everyone knows I'm your favorite.

I don't know how to dance.



You should dance with Claire.

You go ahead, please.

These are Rice Krispies squares.

Rice Krispies squares?

Yes, I made them. I'll give you the recipe, if you'd like.

Qh, yes!

They're like baklavas... but Quebec-style.


Gimme that, you dick! Give it back to me!

Give it back to me! Now!

What's going on?

He started!

What's with you two? Do you want to ruin the party?

Goddamn retard!

Have you gone crazy?

Hold it right there, young man.

What's got into you two?

Is what you did nice?

Give me that! Give me that!

Sit there.

Where's Victor?

The nurse's room. But it's not serious.

Emma saw the picture. She's in pieces.

That's Victor's fault!

Why do you have it? Planning to have it framed?

He's not normal!

Is hanging yourself in class normal?

Excuse me? What did you say?

We should've confiscated his camera! If ever...

Audrey, ask the nurse if Victor's ok.

If he is, bring him here. Please.


Simon, is there something you want to say about the photo?

Bachir, could you leave us, please?

Did you see it?

I don't need to see it.

I can't get Martine out of my head.

The dead stay in our heads because we loved them.

And because they loved us.

Your mom's not here?

I don't know where she is. Chicago, Miami...

Who's picking you up?

My babysitter.


I need the budget for your year-end outings by Monday.

Bachir, did you decide on yours?



Your year-end outing?

We're seeing Moliere's Imaginary Invalid.

The kids must be ecstatic.

Some parents want Simon to be suspended for hitting Victor.

They're back playing together.

It's not the parents' business.

Of course it is.

Simon's getting more violent.

If it were my call, I'd expel him.

The parents are deeply worried.

We could punish this outburst, but Simon's photo points to a deeper problem.

What are you insinuating?

Nothing. I'm talking about the kids' grief, the school's.

Apart from the photograph, what has Simon done?

He's very aggressive.

When you whistle in his ear?

He was horrid to Martine.

With that photo?

Let's not bring that up again.

Bring what up?

Martine gave Simon tutoring.

Once, when he was having problems at home, she hugged him.

He pushed her away violently.

Later, he complained that his teacher had "kissed" him.

Kissed...? No.

A peck on the cheek.

Yes. Well, in fact it was a hug.

She was like that with everyone. Affectionate.

She did nothing wrong.

Except make an error of judgment.

An encouraging tap on the back... "Poor judgment!"

My kid came back from summer camp with second-degree burns...

Gaston, please!

...because his counselor wasn't allowed to put sunscreen on him.

Today, you work with kids like with radioactive waste.

Hands off or you'll get burned!

You're exaggerating! Yeah?

Try teaching kids on a pommel horse without touching them.

Impossible! Ok, thank you, Gaston.

So I take my whistle and have them run laps like a jerk, and they take me for a jerk.

Martine gave the kid a comforting hug.

She got burned. She found it tough.

She did, but you're extrapolating.

We can either help Simon or dump him into someone else's yard.

We can still get through to him.

I suggest a week's detention and I'll have a specialist see him.

Another specialist!

Did you draw Martine hanging herself?

I'm not normal, don't you know?

You're not the only one who's sad.

But no one else was so mean to her!

Her things. From her desk.

We called her husband. He never came.

I planned to chuck it.

But some of it might be useful.

"So you can read them a new fable every week."


Pierre's her husband. He didn't come.

If it's not you, it's your brother.

I haven't any.

Then someone close to you!

Then someone close to you!

For sorely you try me, You, your shepherds and your dogs.

Oft have I been told: Vengeance must I take.

Thereupon, deep into the woods, The wolf carried off the lamb and ate it, Deaf to all appeals.

Very moving, Miss Marie-Frédérique Caron-McCarthy!

What does the fable teach us?

It's unfair for the lamb.

Unfair? Interesting. Why?

It's not the lamb's fault.

Remember how the fable begins.

"Might makes right. As will be plain in sight."

Do you agree?

So what if we agree or not?

Even if the wolf is wrong, he wins the argument.

Like you.


A teacher always gets his way, even if it's unfair.

To further explore this, write a fable on the theme of injustice.

To make it fairer, I'll also write one that you'll correct.

Go, flee your teacher's injustice.

Have a nice evening!

Bachir. Hello.

I thought the pipes were knocking.

Pipes can knock? Lovely.

How are you? Fine, thanks.

And you, Ms Martel? Good, thanks.

You can call me Claire.

Yes, certainly.

Your coat?

Thank you.

For you, almond samsas.

Thank you.

Can I get you a drink?

A glass of red wine?

Mrs Dumas hasn't arrived?

Pierrette can't make it.

I need a second in the kitchen.

A little ethnic music?

No, my iPod's just on shuffle.

Shuffle? Yeah, shuffle.

Oh, shuffle!

You've no idea what it means. No.

It just means "random".

It's the iPod that chooses the music.

Like an MP3 player, you know?

An ethnic appetizer?

Thanks, later.

You don't teach just theater?

Theater, conjugations, vocabulary, dictation, composition...

Sincerely, I'm sorry, I can't do it.

I don't know what to say.

It's just dinner. We can postpone.

I meant the curriculum.

I'm sorry!

No, it's my fault. I'm so anxious about school.

I worry for the kids.

I imagine them grown up, but still speaking like children.

And it's my fault, because I've forgotten to put some color in their lives, some African violets in their classroom.

I feel guilty for having abandoned them.

Even the ones we're not able to reach, we don't abandon.

Did you know Martine Lachance well?

Quite well, yes.

Do you think there's a link between Simon and her suicide?

Martine hadn't been well for a long time.

She had anxiety attacks.

But suicide...

Can we change the subject? To...?

You left Algeria because of terrorism?

You could say that.


A few years ago.

Did you teach during the war? No.

Well, yes.


Did you discuss it in class?

About what? Terrorism, the victims?

You mean the dead, Claire?

You used my first name. Yes.

No turning back.

It would be strange, I admit.

More wine?


It's getting a bit warmer, and up there?


No. Well, I have someone for dinner.

No, a colleague.

It's him.


Arabia is 4,000 km from there.

I'll call tomorrow, Mom.

Ok, bye.

My mother in Chibougamau.

I'm an immigrant too.

I left home for Africa.

I saw Dakar, Bamako, Ouagadougou, before Montreal!

You share that with your kids?


You must share with your kids too.

Share what?

Your story, where you're from.


What about your culture? It's not in the curriculum.

But exile is another kind of journey.

No, Claire.

For most immigrants, it's a trip without papers uprooted to a country whose culture is foreign.


I don't know why, the violet is dying.

Too close to the window, maybe.

You have to talk to it.

About what? Anything.

About you. Tell it about yourself, Bachir.

It will shrivel with boredom!

Too bad you think that.

Come on, kids.

As I was strolling... Strolling...

L - l - i - n - g.

Tense? Imperfect.

...along in the sunshine. S-h...


Who knows what a nymph is?


A nymph is like an insect that's ready to become a butterfly, like a chrysalis.

Very good.

Any other vocabulary?


Is that Balzac?

No, a newspaper article.

Are we correcting the news?

Defenestrate means to throw from a window.

Put away the paper.

My granddad defenestrated himself.

A long time ago in Chile, the army imprisoned him.

He was tortured.

He killed himself after being released, or escaping...

Did you discuss it with anyone?

My mom.

When Martine killed herself, we...

It's not the same at all!

I never said it was.

With Granddad, we know why. Torture.

With Martine, we don't know why.

Anyone else talk about it at home?

Why discuss suicide? You're no psychologist.

Spoken like your parents.

Anyone who wants to speak, feel free.

Want to say something?

Everyone thinks we're traumatized. But it's the adults who are.

Anyone else?

Simon wants to talk.

Are you nuts?

Why'd you raise your hand?

I didn't. If you have something to say, say it.

I already said what I had to say in my composition.

Go ahead, spit it out!

Simon. Say it's my fault!

You said it, not me.

Be more respectful.

Goddamn coward! Alice!

I'll tell you what she thinks. That it's my fault.

It's my fault because I told on Mrs Lachance.

I didn't want her acting like my mom.

Simon, you liked Martine just like the rest of us.

She gave you privileges and helped you with homework.

She gave me the camera, but I never asked.

I never asked for a kiss!


She hugged you after you cried.

Happy now? Saying that I was crying.

You never cry. You're perfect, a real guy.

It's true, she didn't kiss me.

But she hugged me, and I didn't like it.

It's not my fault.

It's not my fault, what happened, right?

It's not my fault?

It's not your fault.

Martine hadn't been well.

She knew I brought the milk on Thursdays.

She knew I'd see her like that.

Don't try to find a meaning to Martine's death.

There isn't one.

A classroom is a home for...

It's a place of friendship, of work, and courtesy.

Yes, courtesy.

A place full of life.

Where you devote your life.

A place where you give of your life.

Not infect a whole school with your despair.

The Algiers police report submitted by counsel rules out that the fire was an accident and confirms it was a criminal attack on your family.

Thus, if I may...

I declare that the asylum-seeker is a refugee as defined by the convention.

It has been shown he rightly fears persecution for a reason covered by the convention.

I also declare that he is in need of protection and that repatriating him to Algeria would expose him to threats on his life or the threat of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

There is good reason to fear that sending him back would expose him to the risk of torture.

I fixed your chair.



Meet my mom.

Hello! Delighted to meet you!

Me too. I've heard so much about you.

The rules strictly forbid me to say this, but Alice may well be my favorite!

My kiss! Bye.

Have a good day.

I wanted to thank you.

It's been rough with everything and because I was away a lot.

She showed great maturity.

You gave her so much support. You were... solid.

So thank you.

Thank you very much.

Goodbye. Thank you so much!

You had to dredge up Martine?

What? The kids brought it up.

Bachir, don't play games.

You keep reopening her grave.

You sent Alice's text to Simon's parents, despite...

He needs his parents, who're totally absent.

Bachir, stop!

You're not a permanent resident.

You know?

You're a refugee.

You hushed it up?

When I found out, I decided to let it go.

The class was doing well.

And now?

Now the cat's out of the bag.

Marie-Fred's parents grilled me. They'd investigated.

Simon's parents called.

I can't ignore it all. The Board is on my back.

What did you do in Algeria?

I ran a restaurant.


I don't know which of us looks dumber.

I won't abandon them. The year's over.

Audrey's with your class. I found a replacement.

You can do something.

I did too much already.

At least they're letting me finish the year.


I'm so sorry.

Get your briefcase at recess. We'll send the rest.

I don't want a scene in front of the kids. Understand?

Let me teach the class today.

I'll say I have to leave.

I can't not say goodbye.

Martine left without saying goodbye.


You get a bonus point for consulting a dictionary.


Victor, it's very good you looked it up.

And now, if you like, you'll correct my fable.


I'll read it. When you see a mistake, you stop me.

Ready? Yes.

The Tree and the Chrysalis by Bachir Lazhar

After an unjust death, there's nothing to say.

Nothing at all.

As will become plain below.

From the branch of an olive tree, there hung a tiny chrysalis the color of emerald.

Tomorrow it would be a butterfly, freed from it's cocoon.

Its. I-t-s.

The tree was happy to see his chrysalis grown, but secretly, he wanted to keep her a few mor years.

More, m-o-r-e.

"So long as she remembers me. "

He'd shielded her from gusts, saved her from ants.

But tomorrow she would leave to affront alone predators and poor whether.

Weather, W-e-a.

That night, a fire ravaged the forest, and the chrysalis never became a butterfly.

At dawn, the ashes cold, the tree still stood, but his heart was charred, scarred by the flames, scarred at grief.

Scarred by grief.

Ever since then, when a bird alights on the tree, the tree tells it about the chrysalis that never woke up.

He pictures her, wings spread, flitting across a clear blue sky, drunk on nectar and freedom, the discreet witness to our love stories.

Translation: Robert Gray, Kinograph Blu-ray Subtitling: CNST, Montreal