Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sundance Films: Waiting For Superman

Title: Waiting For Superman
Director: Davis Guggenheim
Website: no individual site, but click here for Sundance page

Summary: For a nation that proudly declared it would leave no child behind, America continues to do so at alarming rates. Despite increased spending and politicians’ promises, our buckling public-education system, once the best in the world, routinely forsakes the education of millions of children. Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim reminds us that education “statistics” have names: Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy, and Emily, whose stories make up the engrossing foundation of Waiting For Superman. As he follows a handful of promising kids through a system that inhibits, rather than encourages, academic growth, Guggenheim undertakes an exhaustive review of public education, surveying “drop-out factories” and “academic sinkholes,” methodically dissecting the system and its seemingly intractable problems. However, embracing the belief that good teachers make good schools, and ultimately questioning the role of unions in maintaining the status quo, Guggenheim offers hope by exploring innovative approaches taken by education reformers and charter schools that have—in reshaping the culture—refused to leave their students behind (Sundance).

Thoughts: Winner of the audience award in the U.S. documentary competition, Davis Guggenheim’s third major documentary appears to be another success. Admittedly, the summary for Waiting For Superman gives the impression that perhaps he has bitten off more than he can chew in this subject. His previous two films (An Inconvenient Truth and It Might Get Loud) had a much smaller scope, but perhaps it’s good to see a great filmmaker stretch himself on a subject. We’ve seen many documentaries focused on specific education problems or solutions but few have attempted to go so in depth with a national focus as Waiting For Superman. Guggenheim has proven his talents as a director and with an audience award in tow, this is clearly a documentary you shouldn’t miss.

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