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A Determined Teacher's Radical Approach

October 26th, 2023A Determined Teacher's Radical Approach

Get Tickets RADICAL opens November 3

It is always refreshing to see a film that celebrates the unsung heroes who are responsible for enriching the world’s youth with knowledge. For any audiences who have been anticipating the next film to highlight the challenging, but ultimately very rewarding, profession of teaching should be sure to check out RADICAL.

In particular, this Spanish-language drama, one of the highly anticipated international films – which is opening in AMC Theatres on November 3 – follows a teacher who aspires to push the boundaries of what the educational system will allow and how it could be changed for the better. Likewise, the film itself appears to be made with the intent of pushing boundaries and sparking bold conversation, which is why it has been selected as an AMC Artisan Film.

AMC Artisan Film Selection

The title of RADICAL refers to how the uptight teaching staff and disappointed parents describe the classroom methods of Sergio Juárez Correa, who was recently hired to teach the underperforming sixth grade class at Jose Urbina Lopez Elementary in Matatmoros, Mexico. He wishes to do away with traditional methods of education and discouraging disciplinary actions. Instead, he offers his students the chance to think and decide for themselves and unlock the one thing required to achieve their dreams: potential.

Winner of the audience-chosen Festival Favorite Award at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, RADICAL has also earned the honor of being chosen as an AMC Artisan Film. The PG-13 rated film boasts a very special and refreshingly heartfelt story unlike many other recent releases and performances from its main cast that are so genuine and immersive that English-speaking audiences may forget they are reading subtitles and get lost in the emotions tied to the words. Most astonishing is that the story that inspired it is based in fact.

Based On A True Story

In 2013, Wired published an article by writer Joshua Davis called “A Radical Way of Unleashing a Generation of Geniuses.” The piece detailed how teacher Sergio Juárez Correa managed to help his sixth grade students overcome their poor test scores and better themselves with a lesson plan that defied his school’s government-mandated curriculum.

That article is the main source material for RADICAL. The film is not only based on its inspirational story of a teacher who beat the odds with a way of teaching considered unorthodox by his peers, but also details the economic hardships the students were known to face at a school across the street from a garbage dump, and as part of a community burdened by violent crime.

Starring Eugenio Derbez

Leading the cast of RADICAL is Eugenio Derbez, who gives a wonderful, heartfelt performance as Sergio Juárez Correa, showing the same kind of passion you imagine the teacher he is portraying must have had for his profession. The Mexican actor and filmmaker is better known for comedic roles in movies like 2017’s HOW TO BE A LATIN LOVER, the gender-swapped remake of OVERBOARD from 2018, or Nickelodeon’s live-action adventures, DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD.

However, this is far from his first dramatic role, having also appeared in the OscarⓇ-winning CODA and, more recently, the coming-of-age drama, ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE. He has also participated in the Spanish-language dubs of many hit American films, such as SHREK, where he provided the voice for Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy in the English-speaking version).

Directed By Christopher Zalla

RADICAL is unlike any project previously helmed by Christopher Zalla, who also wrote the screenplay based on Joshua Davis’ Wired article, but it may be his most personal. An article by Deadline details how he identified with Sergio’s choice of essentially “winging it” when coming up with his lesson plan – similar to his initial approach to filmmaking.

Additionally, Zalla – who was born in Kenya, but raised between Bolivia and Kentucky – has also dabbled in teaching himself, giving lectures about screenwriting at Harvard and serving as adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Graduate Film School. He made his feature-length film debut in 2007 with BLOOD OF MY BLOOD – a Spanish-language crime thriller that earned him two Independent Spirit Award nominations – and went on to direct episodes of various iterations of “Law & Order” and a Lifetime movie called BEAUTIFUL & TWISTED before working on RADICAL.

Watch The Trailer

Much like the film itself, the trailer for RADICAL invokes a mix of emotions with certain editing choices and a style of accompanying music that results in an effective juxtaposition to its more hard-hitting dramatic elements. See for yourself by checking out the clip below:

The trailer, which features scenes in which Derbez gets to put his comedic talents to good use, teases the ways Sergio tries to defy tradition at his school – such as muffling the hourly bell, leaving the lesson plan up to the students to decide, etc. It also depicts the inevitable conflict he faces with fellow teachers frustrated by his methods and parents with stunted expectations for their own children's potential. It also does not shy away from depicting the troubling influences that threaten to corrupt the children in their community.

Those looking to be inspired should check out RADICAL when it comes to their nearest AMC Theatres location!

Get Tickets RADICAL opens November 3

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