The Substitute is a film where democracy and authority, tradition and innovation are juxtaposed and where great emotions spring to life. It's the story about the young and ambitious Max and his old and strict teacher Folke who try, each in their own way, to get a wild ninth grade class in a Swedish suburb through their final exams.
A young and ambitious teacher, for Max Wejstorp the chaos at Hallonberg School becomes more than he can cope with. He asks his own old teacher, the legendary 73-year-old Folke Silvn from southern Sweden, to come to the rescue. Folke is a teacher "of the old school"; he's the world record-holder in talking backwards, too. When he turns up in the Stockholm suburb of Hallonbergen things start happening. The story presents two teaching styles in stark contrast with one another: the hands on, personable approach that Max takes, and the more traditionally authoritative approach of his old-school mentor.
However, the real stars of the film are not the teachers, but rather the students whom we observe transforming in equally compelling but distinct ways under the care of both extraordinarily committed and thoughtful teachers. The Substitute is an exciting school-world action drama; it really has you wondering how things are going to turn out. It's a warm-hearted, humorous, serious film in which democracy comes face to face with authority, tradition with new ground -- a film in which feelings run high and things aren't always what they appear to be.
"When our friend Max, under considerable pressure, considered getting in touch with his old teacher, Folke, to ask for his help at the school, we realised there might be a film there. We had no idea how things would transpire; as the shooting progressed, any notions we had about the result were stood on their head," say the directors, Asa Blanck and Johan Palmgren.
Visit the distributor First Hand Films
This film originally aired as part of Doc-Debut, a series on Link TV highlighting unique and groundbreaking international documentary films. Each week features the US television premiere of a new foreign doc, offering American audiences unprecedented perspectives on world events and culture, as seen through the eyes of individuals across the globe. The series also provides a unique outlet for films by independent directors and producers to reach a much wider international audience.