Posts Tagged ‘Waiting for Superman’

The Sunday Review: Waiting for “Superman”: an inspiring companion to the acclaimed film edited by Karl Weber

13/03/2011, 02:05:44 PM

by Anthony Painter

Tobacco manufacturer, banker, arms dealer, big pharma, big oil, sweat shop multinational, teacher. Waiting for “Superman” finally confronts the latter evil (yes, I’m being ironic.) It’s the latest documentary from Davis Guggenheim, the filmmaker behind An Inconvenient Truth. As he modestly explains in the introduction to this series of essays that accompanies the film:

“The only way we’re going to address this [education] crisis is if these uncomfortable truths are spoken out loud. And the only person who can say is someone independent of the system, like maybe a documentary film-maker”.

So perhaps Davis Guggenheim is Superman? He probably sees himself in that stratum if the above quote is anything to go by. Nonetheless, the Superman in the film’s title doesn’t seem to be Guggenheim. Perhaps it’s Geoffrey Canada, the founder of the Harlem children’s zone? This inspirational educational initiative centred around charter schools has transformed the life chances of some of the most deprived kids in New York. The film’s title is taken from Canada:

“One of the saddest days of my life was when my mother told me that Superman didn’t exist….I was crying because no-one was coming with enough power to save us”.

Unusually for an educationalist, he can be seen on Oprah, in Congress, in the press, on bookshelves, and now in the cinema also. The Harlem children’s zone is incredible: it is a full spectrum intervention to raise educational standards in the ghetto. It includes support for families as well as students, a demanding and rigorous programme, and entry is ruthlessly egalitarian – via a lottery. Canada does merit superhero status. And every superhero needs a villainous adversary. (more…)

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