¡De Panzazo! A Documentary on education in Mexico

˙ PREAL Blog

This post is also available in: Spanish

On February 24, the civil society group Mexicanos Primero will release the documentary ¡De Panzazo! (By the skin of our teeth would be a similar saying in English), directed by journalist Carlos Loret de Mola and documentary filmmaker Juan Carlos Rulfo, in 200 movie theaters in 18 Mexican cities.

The documentary is an attempt by Mexicanos Primero to draw attention to the reality of the deficient Mexican educational system. According to press releases and the official trailer, the documentary features interviews with key actors in the education system, hard data, and poignant testimonials from students, parents and teachers. The reality is at times awkward and daunting; the title alone sets the tone of the documentary – de panzazo is a phrase used in Mexico to refer to a baseball player having to slide to get safely to a base, or when a student receives the minimum grade to pass an exam.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-tI89cQ0wk?rel=0]

After watching the trailer, one cannot help finding similarities to the U.S. documentary Waiting for Superman, which premiered in September of 2010 and generated widespread debate for its biting criticism of the deficiencies of US public schools and its suggestion that teachers’ unions bear a significant responsibility for them. It is unclear whether the Mexican documentary will also target the Mexican teachers’ union – or rather its leader– or if it will attempt to distribute responsibility among different actors within the education system. However, what is clear is that, like Waiting for Superman, the movie seeks to use cinema as a tool to bring the message of the shortcomings of the public education system to a broader audience. We hope that ¡De Panzazo! will spark the same type of debates as its U.S. counterpart, and that it continues to draw attention to a much-needed educational reform in Mexico.

Keep an eye on our blog to learn more about the full version of the documentary.

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