“No Waves”, the film by François Civil that focuses on the unrest of teachers

In “Without Waves,” Teddy Lussi-Modeste is interested in the discomfort of teachers abandoned by their hierarchy.
Kazak Productions – Frakas Productions France 3 Cine 2023 In “Without Waves,” Teddy Lussi-Modeste is interested in the discomfort of teachers abandoned by their hierarchy.

Kazak Productions – Frakas Productions France 3 Cine 2023

In “Without Waves,” Teddy Lussi-Modeste is interested in the discomfort of teachers abandoned by their hierarchy.

CINEMA – A feature film about a man wrongly accused of harassment by a young woman. In 2024, this may raise questions. And as soon as its trailer was released in February, No waves denied its title, causing some uproar, particularly on social media where the film’s theme was criticized.

But far from the pamphlet on cancel culture that we might have feared, this social thriller released on March 27 is mainly interested in the failures of National Education and the loneliness of those who work in it. “The heart of my project is really to talk about the discomfort of teachers”summarized with HuffPost director Teddy Lussi-Modeste, French teacher when he is not on film sets.

For this third feature film, co-written with Audrey Diwan (to whom we owe The event), is inspired by his own story: accused of harassment by a student a few years ago, threatened with death by his brother, then acquitted. “I became aware of the loneliness in which we can find ourselves when a problem arises in our profession”he explains.

“Being in complexity”

The film opens in the classroom of Julien (François Civil), a charismatic French teacher, who maintains a relationship of complicity with his students. During a lesson, to illustrate a figure of speech, he praises the hairstyle of Leslie, a shy schoolgirl visibly embarrassed by this attention. We quickly understand that this deviation from the framework is not the first for this idealistic young teacher, who dreams of changing the lives of his students: a few days before, he had invited the best in his class (Leslie included) to lunch near his colleague.

Under the influence of two classmates hurt by not having been included in these special moments, the young woman writes a letter denouncing her teacher for harassment.

The film, which could have fallen into a simplistic and binary narrative, turns out to be much more nuanced. Leslie, as we quickly realize, was really embarrassed by her teacher’s attitude. If she misinterpreted the situation, her accusations are no less sincere. “It was a moral decision, explains Teddy Lussi-Modeste, to show that this young woman is telling her truth. »

And although the film takes place from Julien’s point of view and focuses on recounting his slow descent into hell, it does not hesitate to also represent his failures. “It was very important for us with Audrey (Diwan), to be in complexity with all the characters, explains the director. He is an idealistic teacher, but the other side of this idealism is also pride. We wanted him to question his methods. »

“A cry, a request for help”

But his harshest criticisms, No waves ultimately reserving them for national education. First of all, for not having been able to properly receive the testimony of the teenager who, after her letter, she is immediately summoned to the CPE and put face to face with her violent brother and the teacher she accuses.

But the story also details Julien’s feeling of abandonment, abandoned by his superiors while being threatened with death by Leslie’s brother. “What the film continues to show is that it is necessary to invent protocols, whether in school but also in society in general, to better capture the words of the victims and also to find a solution when a teacher is threatened with death »defends the director.

Teddy Lussi-Modeste, who was placed on leave to make the film, will resume his role as teacher from the start of the school year in September. “I think I am a teacher at heart.”, explains the man who grew up in the Traveler community, where schooling ends early. He says to himself “Very indebted to the school” : “It’s a joyful accountability.” It is thanks to her that I am here today, because that was not at all the destiny that was planned for me. »

Therefore, he hopes that National Education sees his film as it is: “Of course it’s pretty harsh in the way it portrays the school today, but look at what’s happened in the last few years. It is a cry, a request for help.”

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