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On the Way to School  cover photo

On the Way to School 2012


Distributed by Cinema Guild, 115 West 30th Street, Suite 800, New York, NY 10001; 212-685-6242
Producer n/a
Directed by Pascal Plisson
DVD, color, 88 min.

College - General Adult
Children, Documentaries, Education, Elementary Education, Family, Geography

Date Entered: 04/14/2015

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

In the 2014 French Academy of Cinema Arts and Techniques César award for Best Documentary, French director Plisson follows four children in different parts of the world as they make their way to school. For Jackson and his younger sister Salome, the 2-hour journey begins at 5:30am and takes them across the savannahs of Kenya. In Morocco, 12 year old Zahira makes a 4-hour trek through the Atlas Mountains to her boarding school every Monday morning. Argentinian Carlos and his sister Mica ride by horseback 1.5 hours through the barren terrain of Patagonia before arriving at their small rural school. The 5-mile roundtrip journey to school in India for Samuel is made in a makeshift wheelchair, pushed and pulled the entire way by his two younger brothers. As Zahira says to her friends as they make their way along isolated rocky trails. “We have to persevere if we want to study.” Other themes, such as the children’s desire and family support for going to school, can also been seen.

The videography in On the Way to School is stunning, featuring wide panoramic camera shots to capture the difficult, remote, and impressive landscape through which the children travel. Dialogue is minimal, (which is fortunate since some of the subtitles are difficult to read) but effective. Unlike their counterparts in the developed countries of the world where school may be just a short walk, bike, car or bus ride away, the arduous journeys these children must make to get an education are nearly unimaginable. A beautifully crafted reminder that we often and easily forget the privileges we so carelessly enjoy.