The most autobiographical of Truffaut's films, The 400 Blows follows a few months in the life of 12-year-old Antoine who, misunderstood and mistreated by his neglectful parents and repressive schoolteachers, seeks refuge in truancy, petty crime, and the cinema. Fifty years after its original release, the film that launched the French New Wave is universally regarded as one of the all-time great coming-of-age movies.
Dir. François Truffaut, France, 1959, 1h 39m, Subtitled
Richly deserving of its Oscar nomination, The Class is based on an autobiographical novel by François Bégaudeau, who also acts the French schoolteacher who grapples with junior-high students in inner-city Paris. Shot documentary style, with brilliant performances, the film achieves a rare immediacy. Fierce, funny and moving.
Dir. Laurent Cantet, France, 2008, 2h 8m, Subtitled