Final, Fab Festival Film: Radical



Radical is a heart-warming film about an unorthodox schoolteacher who changed the lives of the children in an impoverished Mexican border town.

Written and directed by Christopher Zalla, it is based on true events which took place in the 2011-2012 school year in the crime-ridden town of Matamoros.

Eugenio Derbez, best known as a comedian, is compelling as the teacher, Sergio Juarez Correa, who amazed the principal and his fellow teachers by actually asking to be assigned to the struggling Jose Urbina Lopez primary school.



This was a school with few resources, where the children came from poor families with little interest in education.

The teachers were more concerned with drilling the pupils to behave correctly, and to pass the annual standardised test, than they were to actually teach them anything.

When Correa turned up with his innovative theories of encouraging the children to think for themselves and to study the subjects that interested them most, the other teachers were shocked.



To their amazement, Correa’s students passed the annual test with flying colours.

One talented girl, Paloma Noyola Bueno, was celebrated as the student with the highest score in Mexico.

Zalla’s film stays true to the story he first encountered in Wired magazine.

He focuses on three students: the brilliant Paloma, who helps her invalid father by collecting stuff from the local rubbish dump; the class joker Nico, who wants to join a local gang of gun-runners with his older brother; and Lupe, who dreams of studying philosophy but whose mother wants her at home to mind her baby brother.

Correa realises that no matter how enthusiastic his pupils become about learning, sometimes the tough reality of their lives gets in the way.

Watching the end credits we learn that Paloma has become a dedicated teacher who has founded a non-profit organisation LITOS (Learning and Innovation for Transforming Our Schools) which provides training and resources for teachers in Mexico and other countries.

Correa is still teaching in Matamoros.

Radical is an inspiring film, even more powerful because all the young students are played by Mexican school children with no acting experience.

Radical is showing at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium from Monday March 18 to Sunday March 24.

Watch the trailer…