Le Concours, Claire Simon, France 2016, 119', OV with Spanish subtitles DCP.
A year ago, we programmed in this same cycle one of the best known films by this English director, Récréations (1992), her singular portrait of recess at a primary school in France. Well, 25 years later, Claire Simon returns to observation via documentary in an educational environment, but this time she focuses on entry exams to a Parisian film school, La Fémis. Like an exam in different phases, we are made privy to interviews, exams, the presentation of assignments by future students, male and female; as well as talks given by, conversations with, and observations from the professors and the selection panel. On the one hand: all the hopes and aspirations of youth imagining a professional future and a possible life. On the other, the ideal of excellence that informs this prestigious school neatly summarized in its intimidating motto: “All are equal, but only the best get in.” And all the questions that may occur to you about this type of teaching based on the vocational outlook and passion: What is cinema? Is it possible to teach cinema? Who decides who gets in and who doesn’t? Is this system fair? Who really does determine the future of youth? Claire Denis, who has taught at that school, replies by way of film, the best way a filmmaker can reply to all those questions. The result, once again, is a meticulous, sensorial and cinematographic portrait of a vital moment.