Être Et Avoir, known in English parts of the world as To Be And To Have, is a French documentary by Nicolas Philibert, probably best known for the landmark film Louvre City. Philibert and a small crew spent ten weeks filming teacher Georges Lopez and his small contingent of students from ages 4 to 11 in the small village of Saint-Etienne-Sur-Usson, in central France. What results is an intimate portrait of both the teacher and his students as well as a chronicle of their year together.
Nicolas Philibert, one of France’s most acclaimed documentarians, has his own personal style, one that is very rare and possibly unique in the medium. Indeed, Philibert doesn’t put himself on camera to then start traipsing around asking questions like, say, Michael Moore. Nor does he point his camera on someone’s face and asks him to talk, you know, “in an intimate way”. Far from it. Philibert simply films. He doesn’t intervene, he simply films people in their daily activities. It’s pretty much like the camera wasn’t even there, you’re watching reality, plain and simple. Except for one short scene in the middle of the film, you won’t find anyone look at the camera and start addressing you. No, you just go on and observe these people’s story as though it was fiction, except it’s not. The review continues after the jump, along with a clip from the movie, subtitled in English.