When you’re watching documentary after documentary, at the Sundance Film Festival, it seems like all these different filmmakers are trying to shock you into believing them. From the makers of An Inconvenient Truth, Davis Guggenheim and Leslie Chilcott comes Waiting for Superman, a documentary that isn’t filled with violence or horrifying images, but an important message: How can we solve all the other problems in the world — pollution, corruption, murder — when we can’t even come up with a system to properly educate future generations? At first the problem may seem simple, get better teachers, pay them more! But like many things, the education system is so wrapped up in politics that it seems to have lost its focus: the children.
So although this film doesn’t have the bloodshed that some others may have had, in many ways it’s most hard-hitting because it effects us all. That being said, often times documentaries with such important information can get a bit too heavy, and although Waiting for Superman has an in depth message, they were able to balance it with a very light, humorous and well organized story that made it one of the more enjoyable films to watch.
It has a powerful start that sucks you in from the beginning and keeps you until the very end. Throughout the film they added some clever animation that helped clearly get across the facts needed to understand the situation at hand. There are a lot of different sides to the story and a lot of facts that go into it that could have easily dragged the film down into boring doc hell, luckily they made all the information very easy to take in, with a fun and almost satirical voice to guide you through.
As Guggenheim talks about in the interview below, a good documentary tells a good story. Although there is a lot of information they needed to get a across in the film, they did a great job always going back to the arch of their story and keeping you entertained as well as informed throughout most of the movie. There was a moment, about 3/4′s of the way into the film that did get a little too “statistical” for me and I had a moment of feeling like I was back in school being taught a math lesson. I wasn’t good at math then and not much has changed since (although I am a product of public school education so maybe that’s the problem!). It may have been that my mind was just numb from the lack of sleep at Sundance, but it did loss its power-house feel for about 5-10 minutes. Luckily it was able to get it back and end with a dramatic ending that may of us won’t soon forget,
Overall, the story was well constructed, important, and they were able to get through a lot of information in a very clear, concise, and fun way.
Check out what the director of the film Davis Guggenheim and producer, Leslie Chilcott had to say about making a film about public education…