Ruth Beckermann / Austria / 2024

The relationship between students and their favourite teacher in a bilingual Austrian school class, observed with loving attention over three formative years by documentary auteur Ruth Beckermann.

More than 60 per cent of children in Vienna’s primary schools do not have German as their first language. At the same time, there is a shortage of teachers in schools. With this knowledge in her schoolbag, Austrian documentary legend Ruth Beckermann enters a primary school class in the Austrian capital and follows the 25 pupils and their favourite teacher in the years from 2nd to 4th grade. Both inside the classroom and when the mixed group goes to mosque, cathedral, swimming pool and parent-teacher conferences. Along the way, the camera crew gives the pupils camera phones so they can film and interview each other, shifting the perspective from the adult gaze to literally play out at child height. Through its patient observation and focus on the slowly evolving language, ‘The Favourite’ tells a story over the three years about a school system on its knees, education, integration, culture and social heritage. But most of all, it paints a portrait of the 25 young people, their strengths and strategies, joys and fears, wants and needs. Until the day the favourite gives them news that is both happy and sad.