What happens in Rafe Esquith’s classroom defies the odds. With genuine passion and ironclad conviction, Esquith turns the Asian-American and Latino children of a violence-stricken central Los Angeles neighborhood on to the wonders of Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and mathematics. The Hobart Boulevard Elementary fifth-graders respond heartily, rattling off the names of Shakespeare’s thirty-seven plays or doing rapid-fire arithmetic in their heads. The children are refreshingly engaged as Esquith takes them to Washington, D.C. to visit national monuments, leads them on tours of college campuses, and implores them to work hard and believe in their own self-worth. At the end of the semester they pull together--with a little help from famous actors Ian McKellen and Michael York--their final triumph: a student production of Hamlet. Through tears and laughter, this endearing troupe casts aside the conventional wisdom about the failures of education in the United States.
Academy Award-nominated director Mel Stuart deftly probes the secrets of Esquith’s winning strategy in a story as inspiring and rewarding as it is exceptional.
DVD Features: Filmmaker Interview; Filmmaker Biography; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection