Click here to listen to the interview with Eugenio Derbez.
Click here to listen to the interview with co-writer Joshua Davis.
RADICAL won the Sundance Festival Favorite Award, and the Mill Valley Overall Favorite. It’s no mystery why. Based on the story of Serio Juarez Correa’s, ahem, radical approach to teaching 12-year-olds in the putatively worst school in Mexico, it is a feel-good film that isn’t afraid to show the dire circumstances faced by those kids who have, essentially, been written off by society. Even when one of them makes the highest math score ever achieved on the annual Mexican standardized test.
At the heart of the film is Eugenio Derbez, who spearheaded the production as producer as well as star. Known primarily for his comedic roles, here is brings humanity and compassion to an energetic performance that is as arresting as it is layered.
When I spoke with Derbez via Zoom on October 23, 2023, I started by asking him what it was about this project that made him want to not only star in it, but also be one of the producers.
We went on to talk about how society shortchanges itself by not using Juarez’s methods to unleash the potential of every student; the creative license he allowed himself playing a real person; working with kids who are first-time actors; and spending the day in a water tank in order to turn a playground into a classroom.
We finished up with how the film’s reception has inspired Derbez to help set up The Radical Fund, to aid Hispanic students achieve their dreams.