Ariane Ascaride gets a Once in a Lifetime chance
by Fabien Lemercier
- A teacher completely alters the destiny of a class of difficult students in a film that really hits the nail on the head; it is directed by Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar and distributed by UGC
The social issue of educating the most difficult classes has given rise to endless debate and has already been brought to the big screen through stories adopting different angles of attack, such as The Class [+see also:
interview: Carole Scotta
interview: Laurent Cantet
film profile] and La journée de la jupe [+see also:
film profile]. With Once in a Lifetime, which will be released in theatres tomorrow by UGC Distribution, Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar has opted to take a spot-on approach that succeeds in creating a link between the present of this diverse group of teenagers and France and Europe’s past. This same link moved audiences during the film’s many preview screenings.
Starring the charismatic Ariane Ascaride, who is joined by Ahmed Dramé (who wrote the screenplay together with the director), Noémie Merlant, Geneviève Mnich and Stéphane Bak, among others, Once in a Lifetime delves right to the heart of the Léon Blum secondary school in Créteil, into a Year 11 class renowned for being truly catastrophic. The history teacher of these students who constantly flout the rules suggests a group project: to take part in the national resistance and deportation competition. While initially hesitant, the pupils accept the challenge and gradually see themselves transformed...
“It’s an optimistic movie, especially as this is a true story, which proves that it’s possible to stoke the fires within the most wayward individuals – provided that you place them at the centre of the teaching process,” stresses Mention-Schaar. The students begin to take an interest in the competition as soon as they get themselves really involved with it. And that happens at a key moment: the meeting with a witness, Léon Zyguel, who was deported as a teenager. “When he arrived, something changed,” remembers Ascaride. “Kids who, up until that point, had only come to shoot because they’d hoped to have a laugh or earn a bit of money then felt that they had some sort of responsibility on their shoulders... Léon Ziguel was their age when he was deported, and he knew nothing about what was going to happen to him. He was a teenager, just like them. At the end, he told them: ‘Thank you for the energy you have given me, and I would ask you to do only one thing. Never say “filthy Jew, filthy black, filthy Arab”, because then everything I’ve lived through would have been for nothing.’ Then I saw tears rolling down a lot of cheeks, and I knew our work there was done.”
Produced by the director together with Pierre Kubel for Loma Nasha Films, Once in a Lifetime was co-produced by Vendredi Films, France 2 Cinéma, Orange Studio, TF1 Droits Audiovisuels and UGC, with backing from the Ile‐de‐France region and the “Images of Diversity” fund managed by the CNC, as well as the Acsé (the National Agency for Social Cohesion and Equal Opportunities), among other sources. International sales are handled by TF1 International.
(Translated from French)