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French Palme d’Or winner Laurent Cantet dies aged 63

French Palme d’Or winner Laurent Cantet dies aged 63

French Palme d’Or winner Laurent Cantet dies aged 63© Matt Sayles/AP

French filmmaker Laurent Cantet, who won the Palme d'Or in Cannes in 2008 for his school-set film Entre Les Murs (The Class), died on Thursday aged 63.

"He died this morning in Paris of an illness," his agent Isabelle de la Patelliere told AFP.

The Class is based on the novel of the same name by François Bégaudeau and is a semi-autobiographical account of his experience as a teacher in Paris’ diverse 20th arrondissement of Paris. Bégaudeau also starred in the film. It is both moving and at times wonderfully humorous portrait of precious idealism in the classroom – and doubly impressive considering the improvisation by non-professional teenagers. 

The Class received a unanimous vote for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, making it the first French film to do so since 1987. The movie also earned an Oscar nomination for Best International Feature.

The film was praised by then French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who said it depicted the difficulty of the French education system as well as the valiant efforts of teachers.

He returned to Cannes in 2017 with The Workshop, a film recounting a group of troubled youth attending a writing workshop near the southern city of Marseille.

His works tackled knotty issues within modern French society, always with deep humanity and empathy, something highlighted by the Cannes Film Festival, who bid farewell to "a fierce humanist, who sought light despite social violence and found hope despite the harshness of reality".

Cantet's other works include L'Emploi du Temps (Time Out), inspired by the real-life tale of a man who killed his parents, wife and children after pretending to be a successful doctor for two decades. It won two prizes at the 2001 Venice Film Festival.

His last work Arthur Rambo, released in 2021, explored how a reputation could be destroyed on social media.

The filmmaker had been working on a film called L'apprenti (The Apprentice) which was set for release next year. 

Story by David Mouriquand: Euronews English 

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