Monday, April 14, 2014

Très Magnifique!

I wanted to share that I recently saw both of my selections from the Focus on French Cinema film festival. As you might recall, I had selected Belle et Sébastien and the documentary Sur le chemin de l'école (On the Way to School); let me tell you that words cannot fully express how much I loved both movies, but in particular On the Way to School, which won the festival's Le Prix du Public - Audience Award.

Belle et Sébastien was first up. The film was set in the French Alps and focused on the moving friendship between a young boy, Sebastien, and a wild dog, Belle, known locally as "the beast." The story was sweet and geared towards the whole family, the acting was spot on, but what stole my breath away was the incredible cinematography. The sweeping shots could have been straight out of National Geographic.

Watching On the Way to School is a life changing experience. The documentary follows four children from different parts of the world and shares the incredible lengths each must go to each day as they face long, arduous and sometimes life-threatening journeys to attend school. Some of the children faced treks (on foot) of two or more hours each day all in hopes of gaining an education that would better their lives and that of their families. Jackson and his sister Salome braved stampeding elephants, while Samuel (disabled and in a wheelchair) had to rely on the love and dedication of his two younger brothers pushing his beat up and rusted wheelchair through dirt roads and swamplands in order to make it to school. The movie is gripping and suspenseful as we witness their daily ordeals as well as inspiring and full of heart. The sheer determination and tenacity of each child in light of all obstacles was moving; with the poignant ending when each child spoke hopefully of their future, such as Jackson's vision of being a pilot and Samuel's stated wish of becoming a doctor so he could help other children like himself, ultimately bringing me to tears.

This is a film that needs to be shown in every school so that our children can fully appreciate the good fortune with which they've been blessed. In truth, no one can watch this film and not be changed by the experience. You cannot see it and gripe about traffic or work or feel anything other than an overwhelming sense of gratitude for every blessing God has seen fit to share with us.