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Growing up in the country


Nurturing my flair for learning
Jean-Claude Carrière Film-maker
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In the traditional villages in France, and not only in France but in Europe at the time, next to the Church and the power of the religious presence, there was always the presence of a primary teacher, as in the secular power, who was in charge of education. At that time, my village, called Colombieres-sur Orb, had two teachers: Miss Sabatier and Miss Montamar, they have both died since then, obviously, but I like to remember their names, and they played a key role in my life as they noticed my taste for studies, my sheer happiness when learning, and, as I turned nine, they convinced my parents to let me try for a scholarship. My parents thought I ought to be, as I said previously, to be part of the farming community as they were. But I took the scholarship test and I came first in the department, and this made my parents realise that I had the potential to carry on with studies.  A very mysterious universe, 'studies', what does it mean? So this is why I went to a faith school where I spent my first three years of secondary education, and then, once my parents came to Paris at the end of the war, I managed to finish my secondary school with that scholarship paying until the start of university. Without that scholarship I think I could not... my parents could not have afforded the cost of education as we used to say. So I can only thank those kind and good ladies for having mapped out my life, if I can say such a thing.

Dans les villages traditionnels de France, et pas seulement de France, d’Europe à l’époque, à côté de l’église et du pouvoir….de  la présence religieuse… il y avait toujours l’instituteur ou l’institutrice, c’est-à-dire le pouvoir laïque qui était chargé de dispenser l’enseignement. Il y avait à ce moment là dans mon village qui s’appelait Colombières-sur-Orb, deux institutrices : Mademoiselle Sabatier et Montamar, elles sont décédées toutes les deux évidement mais j’aime rappeler leurs noms, qui ont été très précieuses dans ma vie, parce qu’elles ont assez tôt décelé chez moi un goût de l’étude, une joie d’apprendre et elles ont, quand j’avais 9 ans, convaincu mes parents de me faire passer un concours pour obtenir une bourse. Mes parents me destinaient, comme je l’ai dit à être des paysans comme eux. Mais j’ai passé cette bourse et j’ai été reçu premier du département ce qui a alerté mes parents sur les possibilités que j’avais pour poursuivre ce qu’on appelait des études. Univers très mystérieux, ça veut dire quoi «des études»? Alors c’est pour ça qu’on m’a mis dans un collège religieux où j’ai fait ma 6e, 5e et 4e et qu’ensuite quand mes parents sont venus à Paris à la fin de la guerre, j’ai continué dans l’enseignement secondaire, grâce à cette bourse qui m’a suivi jusqu’à l’enseignement supérieur. Sans cette bourse, je pense que je n’aurais pas pu, mes parents n’auraient pas pu me payer des études, comme on disait autre fois. Donc je remercie ces très braves et charmantes demoiselles d’avoir ainsi choisi ma vie pour moi, si on peut dire.

French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière (1931-2021) began his association with films aged 24 when he was selected by Jacques Tati to write for him. This early experience led to further contact with other film-makers, including Luis Buñuel with whom Carrière collaborated for many years. He wrote screenplays for films including Belle de Jour, The Discreet Charms of the Bourgeoisie, Tin Drum and Danton.

Listeners: Andrzej Wolski

Film director and documentary maker, Andrzej Wolski has made around 40 films since 1982 for French television, the BBC, TVP and other TV networks. He specializes in portraits and in historical films. Films that he has directed or written the screenplay for include Kultura, which he co-directed with Agnieszka Holland, and KOR which presents the history of the Worker’s Defence Committee as told by its members. Andrzej Wolski has received many awards for his work, including the UNESCO Grand Prix at the Festival du Film d’Art.

Tags: Education, opportunities for advancement, primary school, scholarship, Colombières-sur-Orb

Duration: 1 minute, 45 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2010

Date story went live: 26 July 2010