An Algerian immigrant is hired to replace an elementary school teacher who died tragically.
In Montreal, an elementary school teacher dies abruptly. Having learned of the incident in the newspaper, Bachir Lazhar (Fellag), a 55-year-old Algerian immigrant, goes to the school to offer his services as a substitute teacher. Quickly hired to replace the deceased, he finds himself in an establishment in crisis, while going through his own personal tragedy.
The cultural gap between Bachir and his class is made immediately apparent when he gives them a dictation exercise that is beyond their reach. Little by little, Bachir learns to better know this group of shaken but endearing kids, among whom are Alice and Simon, two charismatic pupils particularly affected by their teacher’s death. While the class goes through the healing process, nobody in the school is aware of Bachir’s painful past; nor do they suspect that he is at risk of being deported at any moment.
Adapted from Bashir Lazhar, a play by Evelyne de la Chenelire, the 2012 Best Foreign Film Oscar Nominee Monsieur Lazhar depicts the encounter between two distant worlds and the power of self-expression. Using great sensitivity and humor, the director follows a humble man who is ready to transcend his own loss in order to accompany children beyond the silence and taboo of death.