It is 1962 in a peaceful Gallic village far from Algeria, which has just been made independent of France. But in Wild Reeds, that nation's involvement in Algeria has mortal repercussions for the secondary school students in the village, teenagers struggling to define themselves intellectually and sexually as their country sorts itself out politically.
In his involving film, one of the best in the festival, director Andre Techine creates living characters instead of sociopolitical symbols.
There is a bourgeois boy who platonically loves the Communist girl, but finds himself sexually attracted to boys. There is a farmer's son working for his baccalaureate who might have to marry the widow of his brother, a French soldier killed in Algeria. And there is the pied-noir, the right-wing French national born in Algeria, who loves the Communist girl as much as he hates her politics.