At the Philosophers' School

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    At the Philosophers' School

    À l'école des Philosophes

    Directed by



    97 min

    • French


    The first experiences for five mentally handicapped children entering school, who will have to learn how to get along with the others: an almost impossible task, as they seem to be closed to the outside world. But gradually, the class takes shape before our eyes as the students move towards and against everything, much to the amazement and delight of their parents.


    • Prix Du Jury De La Brenaz - International Film Festival Forum on Human Rights


    Labels & Line Ups


    Adeline Schopfer
    Abderrahim Ibram
    Laurence Despond
    Fernand Melgar
    Fernand Melgar
    Karine Sudan
    Nicolas Rabaeus


    Although the director takes the time to question each of the three elements that make up At the Philosophers' School: parents, teachers and children, the latter (unable to express themselves verbally) remain the central point around which the film orbits. Through his camera Fernand Melgar gives a voice to their silent lamentations, their healthy indignation and their more than legitimate desire to live. 

    Giorgia Del Don, Cineuropa

    Fernand Melgar

    Fernand Melgar


    I wanted to understand what fuels this fear and pushes us to lock our doors and turn this land of asylum into an impenetrable fortress.

    Fernand Melgar (born 1961 in Tangier) is a Swiss actor, producer, director and film editor. The son of Spanish immigrants, Melgar has lived in Lausanne since 1963. In the early 80s he and his friends founded Le Cabaret Orwell, a mecca of underground culture in western Switzerland, followed by the internationally famous rock venue La Dolce Vita. Following a screening of experimental films, he turned himself into a self-taught independent film director and producer. He created experimental films and iconoclastic television segments in 1983. In 1985 he joined the production company Climage, with whom he has stayed a faithful collaborator, and has produced over twenty well-regarded documentaries on the subjects of immigration and identity. He was the editor for the films of Jacqueline Veuve, whose LE JOURNAL DE RIVESALTES was awarded with the Swiss Film Award in 1998. His documentary EXIT - THE RIGHT TO DIE received several international awards including the prestigious Golden Link UER Award for the best European co-production and also the Swiss Cinema Award in 2006. In 2008 his documentary THE FORTRESS won the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival as well as many other international awards. His film SPECIAL FLIGHT, shot in 2011 in an administrative detention centre, received more than thirty international awards, including the Swiss Film Award and the Prix Europa. In his 2013 follow-up THE WORLD IS LIKE THAT, Fernand Melgar tells the story of some of SPECIAL FLIGHT’s protagonists after their expulsion from Switzerland. His last film THE SHELTER was filmed in an emmergency shelter for homeless people in Lausanne and was presented in the 2014 edition of Film Festival Locarno.

    Selected Filmography