An inspirational little hour long documentary about a school teacher, Rafe Esquith, working in an inner city school in Los Angeles. Affectionately and honestly the students refer to him as Rafe, as he takes a class of mixed ability and through an impressive well of kindness, deference and gentle discipline he forms an able acting troupe from a disparate group of 5th grade students. There’s no doubt in my mind that Rafe Esquith is doing something great for these children, engaging them with the works of Shakespeare in a way that will have positive effects on their lives. It is tremendously disappointing to hear of the hints that his work colleagues seem to resent his success. But when Sir Ian McKellan turns up for his yearly visit to Rafe’s class the sight of these children bursting with excitement is something to behold. There’s a lot to think about in this documentary but the overall feeling I left it with was one of quiet and inspired happiness that there are people in this world who will work and make sacrifices to make a difference in the lives of the young and disadvantaged. In the words of Ian McKellan “You can’t watch the little actors without wanting to cry. Why do you cry? I suppose it’s happiness, really, and a regret that not all the children in the world could have a Rafe Esquith for a teacher.”
Here is Rafe Esquith’s website.