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'Monsieur Lazhar' is Philippe Falardeau's fourth commercial film and certainly the biggest success so far for this French-Canadian filmmaker. The film is Canada's submission to the Oscars in the foreign language film category. The film asks a simple question: what happens when a teacher at a small Montreal school kills herself in her classroom? Enter Monsieur Lazhar. He's an Algerian refugee in Quebec, looking to quiet his own demons and in the process help the children deal with theirs.
Philipe Falardeau has a talent for mining the nuances of human relationships. How do unlikely characters meet, respond to one another, grow, move on. And while his films have found critical success, it wasn't all smooth sailing for Philippe. His first feature film - 'The Left-Hand Side of the Fridge' - was widely loved but it left him cold. As the film found success, Philippe found he couldn't write. It would be six years before he made another film. What followed was a quirky movie about a Belgian inventor who found redemption in a small Quebec town.
Philippe's films have been on a steady move upward - they just keep getting better and more popular. For many Canadian artists, writers, and filmmakers, the ultimate success is finding a place in the United States. We'll ask Philippe if success, for him, means pulling up stakes and heading south. Or maybe east to France. And we'll also ask him about his dry spell and whether he's concerned that success could once again sideline his creativity.