Ça Commence Aujourd'hui

France

Synopsis

Daniel Lefebvre is the director of a kindergarten in Hernaing, near Valenciennes, in the north of France. A miner's son, he is passionate about his teaching work in a region that was once prosperous but is now plagued by unemployment.

Backed by a devoted and highly competent teaching staff, Daniel works with the children to awaken their curiosity and self-expression and stimulate their creativity.

One evening, a mother, Mrs Henry, is late in picking up her daughter, Laetitia. Bending over to kiss her child, she collapses, dead drunk, in the schoolyard. Overcome with shame, she flees, leaving Laetitia, and her baby brother. Daniel finds himself with two children on his hands. He phones the Child Welfare Services, only to have the correspondent hang up on him. Deciding to assume full responsibility, he personally takes Laetitia and the baby home - in flagrant violation of school regulations.

This incident has serious repercussions and leads Daniel to take a more radical stance, bringing him into conflict with his superiors in the educational hierarchy as well as city officials. Daniel forges ahead, advancing, backtracking, making mistakes.

His allies in this struggle include his companion, Valeria, a young sculptor, and Samia, a case worker and pediatric nurse, despite the stormy conditions of their first professional contact.

A tragic incident throws everything into question for Daniel. But it also gives birth to new community bonds and forms of co-operation. And it gives Valeria a brillant idea for the school.

This story of stubbornness and courage, pain and tenderness is played out against a natural backdrop of the landscapes of northern France, amid changing seasons of strongly contrasting light, the austerity of abandoned industrial zones, rainy skies and expectant dawns, working-class neighbourhoods blighted by economic recession and the countryside in which Daniel lives with Valeria, with its vast horizons and embracing mists. And most of all, there is the horizon of children's faces, because for them, at all times and in all places, it all starts today.
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Cast & Crew

Directed by: Bertrand Tavernier

Written by: Dominique Sampiero, Tiffany Tavernier, Bertrand Tavernier

Produced by: Alain Sarde, Frédéric Bourboulon

Cinematography: Alain Choquart

Editing: Sophie Brunet, Sophie Mandonnet

Production Design: Thierry François

Costume Design: Marpessa Djian

Main Cast: Philippe Torreton (Daniel), Maria Pitarresiv (Valeria), Nadia Kaci (Samia)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Actor 1999
  • EFA Feature Film Selection 1999