Mohamed Fellas, left, and Seddik Benslimane star in “Monsieur Lazhar,” which will have a free public screening at the North Park. (Courtesy Music Box Films.)

July 1 marks Canada’s 150th birthday, and as part of the celebration, Reel Canada has marked April 19 as National Canadian Film Day (NCFD 150). To salute the film culture of our neighbor to the north, the North Park Theatre (1428 Hertel Ave.) will hold a free screening of 2011 Oscar nominee “Monsieur Lazhar.”

It is hard to pick just one Canadian film to highlight on a day such as this -- consider “Mon Oncle Antoine,” “Dead Ringers,” “The Decline of the American Empire,” “The Sweet Hereafter” or “Strange Brew” -- but Philippe Falardeau’s “Monsieur Lazhar” is a timely, insightful choice.

This story of an Algerian refugee who becomes substitute teacher of a Montreal elementary school class after a teacher’s suicide is wonderfully acted by Mohamed Saïd Fellag. It nicely studies the ever-present tension of life as a refugee, while also making a strong statement on how adults and children cope with tragedy.

For more info on “Monsieur Lazhar,” a nominee as Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards, visit the North Park website. Details on National Canadian Film Day can be found on the NCFD 150 site.

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