Click here to listen to the interview with Joshua Davis.
Click here to listen to the interview with Eugenio Derbez.
Josh Davis has had a storied career writing on topics as diverse as competitive arm wrestling (he also competed), life behind enemy lines in Iraq, and the legal problems of tech mogul George McAfee, getting the inside scoop on the fugitive by living with him for several months Belize.
Several of his articles have been turned in to films, starting with THE BEAST WITHIN, a documentary which chronicled his stint as an arm wrestler. The latest to go that route is RADICAL, based on his 2013 Wired article, A Radical Way of Unleashing a Generation of Geniuses. The cover of that issue heralded 12-year-old Paloma Noyola Bueno, one of the article’s subjects, as the next Steve Jobs, and her story is part of RADICAL, though the film’s focus is on Sergio Juárez Correa (played by co-producer Eugenio Derbez). Using, ahem, radical teaching methods, he took a class of underperforming students at arguably the worst school in Mexico and coached them to remarkable scores on that country’s standardized scholastic achievement test. Paloma received Mexico’s highest score in math ever.
When I spoke with Davis at his home on 10/23/23, the first question was what he had learned over the years about having his articles were turned into feature films. We went on to talk about why Juárez’s methods work; why schools, even his, don’t take advantage of them; and why Davis felt honored to do a story about Mexico that was so positive.
We finished up with a look at his past; his speculations on the future of slow journalism; and a teaser about his new podcase, co-hosted with Kyle MacLachlan, Welcome to Varnamtown, a tale of a small town, big money, and Pablo Escobar.