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Lesson time is precious, students are juggling other subjects, courses, commitments, social life etc...so how can you maximise out of classroom learning?
I always give my students a list of films which are chosen specifically to appeal to young people. Also films which relate to an area of the specification, for example, WW2 and the Occupation of France, or topical issues such as racism and social integration.
'Au Revoir les Enfants' for example, is an unmissable film, made in the 1980s just as French film makers were beginning to address the issue of the Nazi Occupation and more specifically the consequences of collaboration and resistance. Another more recent film is 'La Rafle', the faithful retelling of the 1942 "Vel' d'Hiv Roundup" and the events surrounding it, where 13,000 of Paris's Jews, among them 4,000 children, were rounded up and sent on a road with no return.
'Days of Glory' (Indigenes) deals with a different aspect to WW2 and indirectly addresses the issues of deeply-entrenched racism within French society. Focussing on four North African men who enlist in the French army, this is an exciting movie which pays homage to a valiant group of soldiers who were not treated the same as 'francais de souche' and whose sacrifices have largely been unsung and forgotten.
'La Haine' is a film which should be watched by every student of French; made in the mid 1990s, it is still relevant and a great piece of film-making. Two other must-see films are 'The Chorus', set in a severely administered boys' boarding school in France and with wonderful music, and 'The Untouchables', a film about friendship, trust and human possibility. This is based on a true story and could have been schmaltzy and clichéd, yet it succeeds in being irreverent, uplifting and very funny.
There are plenty of lighter-hearted films which are far superior to the usual Hollywood fare but which give a real picture of what life is like in France and are, most importantly, fun to watch. 'Priceless' for example, which stars Audrey Tautou (famous for her role in 'Amelie') and whose tagline is: 'She only dated men with money...until she met a man with a heart'.
'Populaire' is another fun film: '1958...Rose is a terrible secretary but a demon typist. Her handsome boss (played by Romain Duris)resolves to turn her into the fastest girl in the world. Romain Duris also stars in 'Heartbreaker' (L’Arnacoeur) where he runs a business designed to break up relationships. He is hired to break up the wedding of his daughter (played by Vanessa Paradis) and the consequences, although slightly predictable, are fun to watch. While definitely on the fluffier side of French comedy, Heartbreaker benefits from never taking itself too seriously -- and from the performance of the 2 main actors.
To conclude, I really encourage my students to watch a film every week, with subtitles to make it more accessible, to relax and enjoy...