The First Year - 3 out of 5
The First Year chronicles five teachers during their first year of teaching in the inner-city of Los Angeles. The documentary is bare-bones and raw. There's no flashy animations like in a Morgan Spurlock film and no in-your-face interviews like in a Michael Moore joint. This is one of those rare documentaries that keeps its distance and watches the action unfold. While the teachers occasionally talk to the camera about events that are going on, for the most part, we the viewers are just left to watch.
While the documentary isn't the greatest, it still serves to show how hard teachers have it trying to educate our nation's youth. We see the teachers battle problem students, negligent parents and a corrupt system that almost seems to be put together for the sole purpose of failing. This documentary is also great to watch as it lets you see the foundation that director David Guggenheim lays down and later perfects on Waiting for "Superman." But my favorite portion of the documentary is seeing the level of commitment each of these teachers put towards their jobs and how bright-eyed and bushy-tailed they are towards teaching only to have the system start to beat them down.
The First Year is great to watch if you saw Guggenheim's later work but it's also one of those films (and Waiting for "Superman") that everyone in America should watch. Maybe then our country will no longer rank 14th among 34 countries just for reading--and we're less for science and math.