To Be and To Have

Released 2002


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Movie Summary

Nicolas Philibert
To Be and To Have is a 2002 Cannes Film Festival entrant that endeavors to act as a ballast against the waves of criticism inundating France's public schools. Director Nicholas Philibert focuses his camera on Georges Lopez, a teacher in the rural French town of Issoire. He teaches at one of rural France's "one-room" schools, classrooms where several students of different age groups are taught together. Lopez cares for thirteen students, each aged between four and twelve. Over the course of the school year, Lopez nurtures his students both academically and personally. He teaches the children manners and civility, breaking up fights and working to draw an isolated girl out of her shell. He remains patient with students who struggle in class, focusing diligently on young JoJo, a student who struggles with even the simplest coloring worksheet. To Be and To Have has only captured the daily life of one teacher, but its revelations about Lopez's love for and dedication to his work reflect efforts of teachers throughout the world.moreless

Metacritic Score

  • 90

    Variety Lisa Nesselson

    Any negative stereotypes viewers might harbor about education in rural communities are sent packing by this magnificently lensed and cumulatively touching account from documaker Ni...

  • 80

    The New York Times Dana Stevens

    The interest of To Be and to Have, though, is not sociological: it is not really about the French educational system, rural life or even the way children learn. It is, rather, the ...

  • 80

    Los Angeles Times Manohla Dargis

    Part of what makes a great documentary great is the subject, and though the film never scrapes below the surface of the schoolteacher -- we never find out if he lives alone or has ...

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Foreign Language, Culture, Biography