Icarus Films new distribution pack with Distrib Films continues to pay dividends for domestic home entertainment audiences with the news this week that documentary filmmaker Pascal Plisson’s 2013 César Awards-winner for Best Documentary (the French equivalent of our Oscars), On Our Way to School, will be making its DVD debut on May 23.
This fascinating look at the effort by four disparate middle-school aged children to obtain an education is well worth a look. Not only for the inspirational stories connected to each of the kids, but the stunning cinematography work accomplished by Plisson and his crew in bringing their stories to the screen.
Plisson begins his search-for-knowledge tale with the statement, “Nous oublions souvent la chance que nous avons d'aller à l'école“ (English: We often forget how lucky we are to go to school) … it is simple and yet eloquent as the commonplace act of going to school for European and American kids is just that, a process that is taken for granted.
The day begins for his four subjects in four different places in the world — we jump back and forth between them as their travels to and from school play out during the course of each day. There are no moms in their SUVs dropping these resourceful kids off in front of their schools and retrieving them once again at day’s end.
Jackson Saikong (11-years old) and his younger sister, Salome, live in a remote area of Kenya and travel nine miles each way to school on foot, through what might be called very “rugged” country (think: wild animals).
Carlito Janez (also 11-years old) and his little sister, Micaela, cover 11 miles each way on horseback in the remote region of Argentina’s Patagonia region, while 12-year old Zahira Badi covers equally rugged terrain in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco on foot.
The last child in Plisson’s travel odyssey is Samuel J. Esther, a 13-year old, has the shortest distance to cover each day … just two and half miles. But in many ways his is the most challenging as he has lost the use of his legs and his two brothers (Gabriel and Emmanuel) have to tug, push and pull him along the dusty road in a homemade wheelchair. No air conditioned SUV for Samuel.
On Our Way to School is presented in French with English subtitles.