Cinematic Spaces of Education Festivalette

Hosted by CIES 2015, Education International
and the Open Society Foundations Education Support Program

[Cinematic] images reflect thought, and they may lead to thought, but they are much more than thought’ — MacDougall, 2006

In its inaugural year at the Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, the Cinematic Spaces of Education Film Festivalette features a small selection of international films that powerfully bring local education issues and reality to the conference space. These films and the genres they reflect demonstrate the significant potential that exists in film for comparative education scholars.

A back-to-back panel discussion by scholars, activists, and film directors explores the potential of education in film to influence personal opinion, policy, and public debate about education. In Panel 1, Johannah Fahey, Tamasin Cave and Hugh McLean focus on aesthetics, political theory, and policy re- flected through education in film. In Panel 2, Dieudo Hamadi, Miao Wang, and Mona Nicoara, all film directors, reflect on their own films about education and discuss different films that portray education in m!eaningful ways.

And then, throughout the course of the conference, the festivalette features 9 screenings of powerful, award-winning, ubuntu-rich films. The filmmakers of Our School, Teachers: A Day in A Life, and N!ational Exam in attendance for Q&A’s following their screenings.


BLACKBOARDS (Samira Makhmalbaf, 2000) from Spectacle Theater on Vimeo.

EXAMEN D'ÉTAT, de Dieudo Hamadi from Africiné on Vimeo.

That's a Wrap! Join us on Thursday, March 12 at 8 p.m. for the Cinematic Spaces of Education's Closing Screening (Examen d'État, Democratic Republic of Congo) and post-movie reception.


March 8 7 - 9 PM International Women’s Day Reception: TBD Short Film
March 9 11:30 - 1:00 PM Panel Discussion I
1:15 - 2:45 PM Panel Discussion II
4:45 - 6:15 PM On The Way To School Directed by Ozgür Dogan and Orhan Eskikoy, Turkey
March 10 1:15 - 2:45 PM 2&2 Directed by Babak Irvani, Iran
Where Should I Go? Directed by Li Junhu, China
4:45 - 6:15 PM Our School Directed by Mona Nicoara and Miruna Coca - Cozma, Romania
March 11 9:45 - 11:15 AM Blackout Directed by Eva Weber, Guinea
Teachers: A Day In A Life Directed by Agustin Demichelis and Mar Candela, Belgium/Argentina
1:15 - 2:45 PM On The Way To School Directed by Pascal Plisson, France
March 12 9:45 - 11:15 AM Blackboards Directed by Samira Makhmalbaf, Iran
National Exam Directed by Dieudo Hamadi, Democratic Republic of C!ongo

Film Synopses

On the Way to School (Iki Dil Bir Bavul)

  • Director: Ozgür Dogan & Orhan Eskikoy
  • Turkey
  • 81 minutes
  • One year in the life of a Turkish teacher, teach- ing the Turkish language to Kurdish children in a remote vil- lage in Turkey. The children can't speak Turkish, the teacher can't speak Kurdish and is forced to become an exile in his own country.
  • March 9, 4:45 - 6:15 PM


  • Director: Babak Irvani
  • Iran
  • 8 minutes
  • In a school governed by a strict regime, the pupils are informed that what they had always been taught as fact is no longer true.
  • March 10, 1:15 - 2:45 PM

Where Should I Go?

  • Director: Li Junhu
  • China
  • 70 minutes
  • Where Should I Go? tells the intertwined stories of two families who move from the countryside to the city to pursue proper education for their children. The film reflects the growing social criticism of government policy and reflects on the inequalities that have opened up in China’s rapid de- velopment and the increasing disparities between cities and rural areas.
  • March 10, 1:15 - 2:45 PM

Our School

  • Directors: Mona Nicoara & Miruna Coca-Cozma
  • Romania
  • 95 minutes
  • A four year documentation of three Roma children from a small Transylvanian town who participate in a project to desegegrate their school. Moving portrait of poverty, discrimination and segregation addressed through humour and innocence.
  • March 10, 4:45 - 6:15 PM


  • Director: Eva Weber
  • Guinea
  • 47 minutes
  • Every evening during exam season, as the sun sets over Conakry, Guinea, hundreds of school chil- dren begin a nightly pilgrimage to the airport, petrol sta- tions and wealthy parts of the city, searching for light to study. This evocative and poignant documentary shows how children reconcile their daily lives in one of the worlds poorest countries with their desire to learn.
  • March 11, 9:45 - 11:15 AM

Teachers: A Day in A Life

  • Directors: Agustin Demichelis & Mar Candela
  • Belgium/Argentina
  • 41 minutes
  • Education International’s 2014 documen- tary, Teachers: A Day in a Life by Augustin Demichelis and Mar Candela, explores key concerns for educa- tion policy and teacher policy from the perspective of five teachers in Argentina, Canada, Togo, India and Belgium.
  • March 11, 9:45 - 11:15 AM

On the Way to School (Sur le chemin de l’école)

  • Director: Pascal Plisson
  • France
  • 77 minutes
  • Jackson, Zahira, Samuel and Carlito are the heroes of “On the Way to School”, a film that interweaves the four pupils forced to confront and overcome countless, often dangerous obstacles – enormous distances over treacherous territory, snakes, elephants, even bandits – on their journey to the classroom. By setting foot on their extraordinary path, by embarking on this adventure littered with traps and challenges, they will begin to leave their childhoods behind.
  • March 11, 1:15 - 2:45 PM


  • Director: Samira Makhmalbaf
  • Turkey
  • 88 minutes
  • A group of teachers cross the mountainous paths to the remote Iranian Kurdistan region. Carrying large blackboards on their backs, they wander from vil- lage to village in search of students to teach.
  • March 12, 9:45 - 11:15 AM

National Exam

  • Director: Dieudo Hamadi
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • 92 minutes
  • Director Dieudo Hamadi follows a group of teenagers in his hometown of Kisangani in the Democrat- ic Republic of Congo, whose struggles to pass the state exam that is the key to their future are further complicated by their country's endemic culture of corruption.
  • March 12, 8:00 - 9:30 PM