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This past weekend, I walked into the theater for an hour and a half of Babies and caught the tail end of the trailers. As I went to sit down I was immediately struck by Matisyahu’s “One Day” playing in the background while kids on screen talked about how education was their top priority and a number of different education reformers preached about how the educational system in America has failed its children. Just from a minute worth of trailer I saw a movie that looked powerful, honest, gut-wrenching, frustrating, emotional and all-to-telling about schools in America. So goes Davis Guggenheim’s Waiting for Superman.
For his documentary follow up to An Inconvenient Truth, Guggenheim chose to tackle another topic something which (like the environment) many believe is broken, but few have answers on how to fix. American schools are an especially hot topic in the media with pundits and politicians coming out in droves to look their noses on, but few coming up with realistic solutions for repair (hint: it starts with the parents).
In Waiting for Superman, Guggenheim examines the lives of several children striving for academic excellence in schools that continually produce low graduation rates and illiterate students. Their big hope is being chosen, through a lottery, to attend a high performing school. In following these kids, Guggenheim also catches up with educational reformers like Washington D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee who made waves a few years ago by walking in and basically handing underperforming teachers and administrators their walking papers.
Waiting for Superman won the Audience Award for best documentary at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Check out the trailer below and prepare yourself for an equally inconvenient truth