Tomorrow is school day. Like others pack their schoolbags or take mom’s ironed clothes out of the closet, 11-year-old Jackson digs a water hole in the sand to wash his uniform. Tomorrow, like every school morning, he will walk the fifteen kilometers that will take him to school in two hours, following, with his little sister, dangerous roads frequented by bandits, and crossing with a thousand precautions the territory of the elephants…

Jackson lives in Kenya. Like Zahira, who lives in the Moroccan Atlas, Samuel, in India, and Carlito, in Patagonia, the way to school is for him a daily odyssey. In winter, it can be 20 degrees below zero in the Imlil valley through which Zahira travels.

In Patagonia, the little sister of Carlito, who is 6 years old, raises a foal so that in a few months she can cover the eighteen kilometers that separate her from her school. Handicapped, Samuel moves around in a DIY wheelchair with a camping chair and bicycle wheels, pushed by his two brothers.

Everyone continues to set off each morning with enthusiasm in their hearts and the hope of a future that is sweeter than the present.

An adventure

Pascal Plisson has been able to preserve the greatest part of the children’s spontaneity, to fit smoothly into this routine which seems extraordinary to us on several counts: for the risks incurred, first, for the astounding determination of these little ones, for the beauty striking landscapes they travel.

A feast for the eyes, filmed with a wealth of frames and colors that leaves you dreaming. Not that there is in this, any more than in certain lyrical musical outbursts, an aesthetic temptation harmful to the truth of the whole. On the contrary, it is an affirmation of the deep nature of this journey: an adventure, as in the books and as in the cinema, with the difference that the dangers here are very real, like the admiration that one is driven to design for these heroes who ignore each other.

On our side of the world, it is more common to deal with children for whom school is a meaningless obligation, and the need to get up at 7:30 a.m. to board a bus, torture. Sur le chemin de l’école is aimed above all at these people, not so much to make them realize that they are among the privileged, but in the hope that they will come out of it, even barely , of the heroic spirit that animates these budding Indiana Jones, and tempted in turn to see the race for knowledge as the adventure it can be.

“This film reintroduces something of the order of secular belief. It shows a school that believes in itself, “said sociologist François Dubet after the documentary’s phenomenal theatrical success when it was released in 2013 (1.2 million viewers).

On the way to school, by Pascal Plisson (Fr., 2013, 77 min).

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