An intimate portrait of a mother on a quest for the most effective educational platform for her young son.
Interview with Director/Producer Liane Simard
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I made this documentary because I believed there were gaps within the education system in Quebec, Canada, where I’m from. Of course, we must teach kids different subjects like Mathematics, History and Geography. However, there is so much more to education than simply learning these topics by heart. It’s all about developing their consciousness to a higher level through human Values such as Autonomy, Openness, Creativity, Collaboration, and Respect. In the alternative schools of Quebec, these values are integrated in the curriculum as much as the other traditional subjects. The students get marked, in their gradebooks, for applying these values in their everyday life. My goal with the film was to witness in what way these Values had an impact and how they affected the children. In order to verify that, I decided to document them throughout the six years of elementary school.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Because you will be touched to see 6 children grow up for 6 years before your eyes. To see them evolve in their thoughts, in their way of seeing life and to see their personality and confidence grow. To see them become who they are. You will be touched to see them express themselves with so much freshness and freedom. You will see your own children through them, or you will see yourself as a child again.
How do we become who we are? You will be touched by the narrator, the mother of one of the protagonists, who gives us, with truth and generosity, her quest for autonomy towards her own son. She realizes at the end of the film that she finally is "ready to let him go, to let him make his own choices, in his life".
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The Stakes: The concerns about our children are all very personal and at the same time universal. We would like to give them all the best opportunities to become what they really are. So that they become free beings. The audience will relate to the mother-narrator who speaks to us of her anxiety and her quest for the best system of education for her son.
Time: All parents say: "It goes too fast" We do not have time to integrate the changes in our children. They go beyond us, they are jostling us. In this film, we see children crossing this time, we see children think and evolve. One can only feel challenged, called, by this passing time that leaves traces.
Education: We all care about education. We all are looking for the best education possible. For our children, for society. At this school, the right formula was found. And it's very refreshing to see children progress in this school.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
Since I filmed for six years, I had 130 hours of material. The management of all these hours proved quite a challenge. Throughout the work on the script, it was very difficult to make choices. Because there was a lot of good material. We had to figure out how to tell a story and focus on the characters. We did not want to make a cold story about alternative teaching techniques. We wanted people to be touched by these children and their story.
In the early versions, there was no narrator. There were 6 children who lived in a school for 6 years, but a thread was missing. So I decided that I would be this character we follow through his quest for the best education for his son. My efforts were to capture the Values hrough my camera. From thread to needle, little by little, I invested myself personally as a mother and storyteller. I talked about my apprehension, my fears. From my difficulties to bring up a child in this crazy race of work / family reconciliation. The difficulty of letting your child grow up and become completely autonomous. I saw the film "Les plages d'Agnes" by the French director Agnes Varda and it inspired me a lot. Speaking of her, of the staff, she touched the Universe. It then convinced me that there had to be a personal investment on my part for the film to find its voice.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Spectators tell me they are very touched. Those who have children tell me that they see their own children in the film. They also seek to give the best education to their children. To give them all the possibilities for their personality to develop. They also tell me they are touched when they see the children grow up in 6 years in 80 minutes. It is a shock to see how a child can evolve in 6 years. But to see it in 80 minutes is very troubling. I am told that it is a "feel good movie" that gives hope.
I am told that this type of teaching pleasantly surprises people and that it gives ideas for traditional schools and the home. I am also told that it makes them want to get more involved with their own children.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
At first, I did not see the themes of the film as being so universal. I wanted to talk about a school and how they teach and follow these 6 children and how they integrated the values they learned there. Then, I realized that this film touched even people who did not have children. It surprised me and astonished me. This is where I realized that the film had a larger scope. That it touched upon universal themes and that values, time, education and childhood were subjects that had a greater reach.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I worked 10 years on this film. Without funding of any kind. I held it at arm's length until losing strength. It is an independent film in its purest form. I would like the film to be seen by as many people as possible. That theater programmers are interested in presenting the film. That the film be invited to various festivals throughout the world. That it is broadcasted on different TV networks. That people visit the film website and that get the film from there. Let them read the blog posts about the movie. I want Quebec's alternative education system to be known around the world and that it inspires to improve teaching elsewhere. That this can give ideas to teachers, parents, and decision-makers to set in motion strategies so that children can flourish better. (For example, children are taught respect so that bullying can stop).
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Most of theses people: agents, buyers, distributors, festival directors film critics and journalists. I have been working on my own from the beginning and I would need the expertise of all these people so that the film can reach its full potential.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I would like people to be touched and that the film stays with them and lead them to think.
I would like journalists to talk about it as much as possible to stimulate programmers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, to present the film.
I would like people to remember this film and want to share it.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
· Do you think it's important to teach values in a school?
· Do you think that values an be marked on gradebooks?
· Why should they be graded?
· Is it possible to learn empathy?
· Do you think that acting with empathy can improve children's grades, motivation at school?
· Can teaching values like “respect” in a school make sure that there is no bullying at school?
· Does promoting learning to "be" rather than focusing solely on teaching "knowledge" can make children become better people? Does this have an impact on how they learn in the future? An impact on their esteem?
· Can teaching values at school have an impact on society as a whole?
· What do you think of the sanctioning authority versus the democratic authority?
· Do parents affect the teaching of values?
· Is it easy for a modern parent to combine work and family life? Is it like the character of the mother in the film: sometimes we want to step out of society and take family time “off the grid”?
· Is it easy for a parent to learn the real autonomy and let his child become what he is? To let him grow, let him go?
· What do you think of the Quebec alternative school model?
· Do you think we could be inspired by it?
Would you like to add anything else?
I am working on a book, a guide for parents who have children who want to become actors. "My child wants to be an actor. How to do it? ". I am also working to set up a blog: In coaching (www.encoaching.ca ) which deals with the profession of young actors. With my contributing actors, we analyse the children actors’ profession. I also work on another blog; Between sail and land (www.entrevoileetterre.com) that will be dealing with sailing, travel and life "off the grid".
Interview: November 2016
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Il était 6 fois (Once Upon 6 Times)
An intimate portrait of a mother on a quest for the most effective educational platform for her young son.
Length: 80 or 52 minutes (TV version)
Director: Liane Simard
Producer: Liane Simard
Writer: Liane Simard and Pierre-Olivier Forest
About the writer, director and producer:
Liane Simard is a pioneer in the field of directing and instructing actors for television and film. She has worked as an acting coach on film sets for over 20 years. Liane has coached many of today's young actors who have gone on to achieve acclaim at the international level.
Liane Simard is also a writer and filmmaker. She is the writer, producer, and director of the film La Boîte that was presented at the World Film Festival as well as at the Rendez-vous du Cinema Québécois.
To realize various writing projects, she launched a publishing label called Les Édition du Bardeau (www.leseditionsdubardeau.com). Je reviendrai te le dire, a children’s story, is the first title published. Her upcoming book, Mon enfant comédien? Pour tout savoir... a guide for a parent of child actors will be released shortly.
She is also the founder of a school that teaches acting for the camera where she trains actors and actresses of all age groups (www.lianesimard.com). She continues to write and direct her own films
Juliette Carelli, Mathilde Pluye, Julien Stein-Tremblay Emiko Berman Charles-Antoine Rheault Gillian Richard
Arnaud Simard-Chabot Maya Gasco-Gilmour Emma Armony-Fridman Stella Lord-Mariano Céleste Marquis Charlotte Léonard Jonah Bolduc, Emma Guerrero-Dufour
Aude St-Pierre Dominique Veilleux Emily Morin-Lyons Héloïse Poulin-Therrien Sabine Goldberg, Liane Simard
Sylvie Olaechea Nadia Lacasse Isabelle Turcotte Lucie Villeneuve Marlène Boyle Patricia Leblanc Patrick Parent
Lynn Sparks Dominique Voyer Stéphane Bélainsky Éric Chabot, Françoise Morin
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) :
Yes. For : sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists.
Release date: During the winter 2017
Where will it screen in the next month?
At the Education Festival in Évreux, France.
At the Festival : Children’s International Cine festival, India
On the Planet Canada Network, dates to be determined.