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'Etre et Avoir' French Parents Lose Court Battle

Friday 01 December 2006

The parents of those children involved in the internationally acclaimed French film ‘Etre et Avoir’, have lost their claim for a share of the proceeds of the film.

That is the main conclusion of a Paris court last month, when the judge argued that those who participate in a documentary are neither actors nor co-authors.

The teacher and parents have been fighting a legal battle for five years against the producers and distributors of the film who have consistently refused to acknowledge their claim. The teacher in the French film, George Lopez, had previously lodged a similar claim in the courts, only to also see his claim rejected.

‘Etre et Avoir’ tells the story of a small rural primary school located within mountainous region of the Auvergne. All children attending the primary school were taught in the same classroom by a remarkable and inspiring teacher.

The film has won numerous awards and is one of the most popular films in France. Thousands of French people made the pilgrimage to the village to see the school and participants for themselves. The UK edition of the French film was released in 2003.

The families did not leave the court entirely empty handed, for the court ruled that the producers had not obtained their full agreement to the DVD rights, as a result of which the families were each awarded €1500. The families had claimed €480,000.

Whilst many will be disappointed that at the lack of success of the teacher and the parents, legal experts have expressed relief at the decision, without which there was the risk that the whole principle on non remuneration for those participating in a documentary would have been called into question.

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