News from the Locarno Festival

Sur le Chemin de L’ecole (On the Way to School)

Sur le Chemin de L’ecole (On the Way to School)



The closing film Sur le Chemin de L’ecole (On the Way to School), had its press conference today with director Pascal Plisson, who speaks very passionately about the making of this important film.

The film follows four children from four different countries, India, Kenya, Morocco and Argentina who endure long and hard journeys to school in order to improve their current life conditions. The director Pascal Plisson speaks to the fact that Western children take their education for granted. It is unfortunate that there are children who have it so easy and do not see the importance of education the way that these children from around the world do.

The making of the film was a long process. It took about three years for the genesis of the project, and Plisson worked to find kids that would be inspirational. He spent time getting to know each family of the children, spending three weeks prior to shooting in each country with the families. It took sixteen weeks to edit the film, and posed a challenge, as he wanted all of the children to start their days at school together.

He originally planned to have voiceovers, but the children would speak and sing on the way to school and he chose to showcase their conversations instead, referring to them as “gems”. He adds by saying that the only direction he gave to the children was not to look into the camera. The film is extremely authentic in depicting these children’s walks to school.

When asked if he deliberately chose children who have siblings, he explained that it was dangerous for kids to go to school alone. There is the risk of being abused or kidnapped, and so children like Jackson in the film have to accompany their siblings to school for the sake of safety. For young girls especially, going to school can serve as an escape from marriage at ages as early as twelve or thirteen years old.

Pascal Plisson says that “each story could be its own film”, but he wanted to show the similarities across the different countries. He feels as though had it only been centered on one child, that the story would come across more as a fictional piece. He attempts to make an authentic, genuine portrait of these children’s lives.

The film which is screening at the Piazza Grande tonight will be shown to up to eight thousand people, and that kind of exposure to this issue is sure to make an impact. “Only good things can come out of this experience for the children,” says the director; and by screening the film to the Locarno audiences and to the world, surely he is right.

Adriana Floridia

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