This rousing crowdpleaser starring Eugenio Derbez (CODA) as a Mexican teacher who thinks outside the box picked up the top Audience Award at this year’s Sundance film festival.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
Superstar Mexican actor and comedian Eugenio Derbez gives a big-hearted crowd-pleasing performance as an inspirational teacher in this uplifting Sundance favourite. “Based on the remarkable true story of Sergio Juarez Correa, a teacher in the northeastern Mexican border town of Matamoros, the film was hatched by Christopher Zalla out of a Wired magazine article by Joshua Davis… It’s set in 2011, an especially heated time in the drug wars, in a city plagued by violent crime, poverty and corruption, where the outlook is so grim that education beyond the basics is often viewed as a waste of time.
Derbez’s Sergio is up against all that and more when he signs up to teach elementary-grade students at Escuela José Urbina López, informally known as ‘The School of Punishment’ and one of the least desirable teaching placements in Mexico. The gates are locked every day during school hours to protect the children from the city’s criminal element, but their motivation to learn is dampened by jaded teachers and an institutional policy that emphasizes discipline and obedience over education.” — David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
“Eugenio Derbez has never been better… He brings an unbridled enthusiasm and compassion that immediately makes you root for him, utilizing both his natural comedic skills and charm alongside his impressive dramatic chops. But he's not painted as this perfect character. Jaurez doesn't have all the answers, but he's doing his best to lift these kids up and set them on a more promising path Radical doesn't reinvent the wheel when it comes to what we've come to expect from teaching dramas… but that doesn't keep this from being an uplifting story full of hope and heart.” — Ethan Anderton, Slash Film