Film Review: The Graduation (Le Concours)

The Graduation

The Graduation (Le Concours) is a fly-on-the-wall documentary that pays off, despite a slow start.

Le Femis in Paris is one of the top film schools. Every year, numerous candidates compete for limited places at the highly selective school. Each of the prospective students need to go a rigorous selection process…

Filmmaker Claire Simon goes behind the scenes at Le Femis in Paris, capturing their selection process in The Graduation (Le Concours). The film follows the various stages of selecting new students, from the initial exams, to the practical tasks and the oral examination. Simon has been granted to the school, documenting each stage, and the assessors’ discussion of candidates.

The Graduation begins rather slowly, as students are filmed taking the entrance exam. The film does not immediately hook viewers; it is not clear how the film is going to be interesting in the first twenty minutes or so. Nevertheless, it defies these early expectations. The turning point appears during the examiners’ room footage. It is clear from this segment that there is a sufficient contretemps to make for an interesting film.

There are some great scenes in The Graduation. In particular, there are some very funny bits in the script development interviews. Also, those who have seen Weiner-Dog will find the interviewee who struggled to name a film particularly amusing. As the film progresses to the oral examination, viewers will likely be invested in the outcome of the selection process. This section of the documentary gives an insight into the background of some of the candidates, as well as the rumination of the assessors. Simon rewards her audience in the last five minutes by showing some of the successful candidates. Most viewers will have formed an opinion on the candidates, therefore it is interesting to see how closely this aligns with the examiners.

The Graduation is most rewarding for those who commit to it. Highly recommended for film school graduates in particular.

The Graduation (Le Concours) is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2016.