GSC’s “France in Cinema”: La Vie Scolaire

Dept. of Culture and Classrooms


Showing as part of GSC’s “France in Cinema” series of screenings in association, with Alliance Francaise KL, La Vie Scolaire is the latest in a line of fantastic social problem films that GSC Cinemas have brought to Malaysia to kick off their various film festivals over the years.

In 2019, the excellent and funny Les Invisibles portrayed the tribulations faced by the staff and attendees of a French Day Center for homeless women as it faced closure, using a mix of professional actors and formerly homeless women.  Last year’s sadly cancelled French Film Festival was to have opened with The Specials (Hors Normes), a devastatingly moving film starring Vincent Cassel (La Haine, Westworld) and Reda Kateb (Zero Dark Thirty, A Prophet) as the overstressed administrators of two programs that try and help people with autism and the issues they face trying to provide for the overwhelming demand for their services.

Each year these films have drawn attention to a difficult topic with no easy solutions while simultaneously being enjoyable and even funny.

This year La Vie Scolaire focuses on the lives of the students and teachers in the school in Saint Denis suburb of Paris, as new teacher Samia Zibra (Zita Hanrot) settles in as her educational training meets reality when she tries to motivate and inspire both students and teachers who have already been worn down by the system.


While students face an uphill battle just to see the immediate point of this education, teachers face unruly classrooms and the treat of physical violence as they try to do what they can with what little they have. From music classes ringing with the discordant sounds of recorders, to the threat of losing students to the temptation of crime or drugs, to teacher’s buying drugs from their students, everyone has their work cut out for them.  

Unlike much more obviously uplifting takes on similar material from Hollywood, like Stand and Deliver, Mr Holland’s Opus, or even… Summer School, the cinema verité style used by directors Mehdi Idir and Grand Corps Malade puts you right in the school thereby grounding film like a documentary. The camera veers from Samia’s attempts to help the teachers and students while a steady stream of misbehaving pupils and their parents report to her office, to the students themselves, like whip smart Yanis (Liam Pierron), who doesn’t see the point in school and risks falling prey to much bigger problems. As with the other French films that GSC have brought to Malaysia, La Vie Scolaire educates while being entertaining, all the while acknowledging there are no simply solutions to the problems facing these kids.

I Must Not Eat Honey Loops In Music Class

There is still plenty of laughs to be had though as the PE teacher works though a cavalcade of weird sports mash-ups (cycle hockey anyone?), as well as the banter between the students, all of whom deliver excellent performances. A highlight is the teacher’s “Simpson’s challenge” where the staff compete to see who can dole out the lengthiest, most ridiculous summation of a student’s infraction for him or her to write out 100 times.

La Vie Scolaire and the other films showing as part of the “France in Cinema” festival are a million miles away from the usual horror, crime, action, or superhero films that we usually get but are no less enjoyable.

Miss it, and the rest of the films shown as part of the “France in Cinema,” at your peril.

France in Cinema Screenings

This year GSC Cinemas “France in Cinema” film festival in association with Alliance Francaise KL spreads out a number of screenings of French films from May 2021 to March 2022 at GSC Mid Valley in Kuala Lumpur and GSC Gurney Plaza in Penang, COVID-19 restrictions allowing. For a full, up to date list of films and screening times see here.

Note: As with many foreign films shown in Malaysia during these film festivals, La Vie Scolaire is subject to “blackouts” during scenes deemed by the LPF as “inappropriate” for Malaysian audiences, as the film has not been submitted for editing. It can be a little annoying at times but it doesn’t detract too much from the film’s impact.

La Vie Scolaire is also currently streaming on Netflix in Malaysia if you miss it in the cinema. (Make sure to watch it with the original French audio with subtitles for the best experience).

GSC Mid Valley GSC Gurney Plaza
La Vie Scolaire (School Life)May 3rd 2021May 10th 2021
Au Nom De La Terre (In the name of the Land)July 5th 2021July 12th 2021
Deux Fils (Father and Sons)Sept 6th 2021Sept 13th 2021
Le Voyage Du Prince (A Prince’s Voyage)Nov 1st 2021Nov 8th 2021
Continuer (Keep Going)Jan 3rd 2022Jan 10th 2022
Les Drapeaux De Papier (Paper Flags)March 7th 2022March 14th 2022

Irish Film lover lost in Malaysia. Co-host of Malaysia's longest running podcast (movie related or otherwise ) McYapandFries and frequent cryer in movies. Ask me about "The Ice Pirates"

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