The Substitute, from the success on Netflix Argentina arrives in theaters in Mexico – El Sol de México

“Can someone tell me what literature is for?” with this question Pike He begins his first class at a school in one of the marginal areas of the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Avellaneda, where he has arrived as a substitute teacher. Everything, after having lost the contest for a better place at the University of Buenos Aires and the difficult decision to accompany his father, an old and rather sick social leader. Accustomed to the academic and intellectual world, he recognizes that he does not want to be there, in front of those students who do not show a minimum of interest, but with whom he agrees on one thing: “Literature is useless.”

Thus begins the new film by Argentine director Diego Lerman, Alternatewhich opens in Mexican theaters, after its successful launch in Argentina, where this week it was positioned as the most watched movie on Netflix in that region.

It is a film that recognizes the figure of many teachers as a fundamental part of social development, not only for their work in the classroom, but for their humanistic vocation and interest in the welfare of their students. And although it is a subject that has been addressed by several films, Lerman’s proposal is a vision much closer to the daily reality of Latin America, full of inequality, surrounded by the violence of drug trafficking and harassed by political interests.


“There are certain sectors of the intellectual and university field that remain somewhat dissociated from the context that surrounds them, which is in its own logic. This film is a crisis setting of the intellectual and the teacher. What interests me is upsetting certain places of security or certain premises to the status quo, rather than saying what must be done. What is the output? I don’t know, but what I do know is that education provides opportunities for social transformation”, explains Diego Lerman in an interview with The Sun of Mexico.

In this sense, the director expresses himself for some of the effects that this new production has had, beyond just the numbers reached in reproductions and attendances in Argentine cinemas.

“Something that I celebrate a lot about what has happened with this film is that in Argentina the educational community embraced it, made it their own, gave talks and programming. In general, they felt it was necessary, because there were no films that talked about that everyday life, about that involvement of some teachers who have an almost religious faith in education”, says the director.

Lerman explains that for the making of this tape he had to carry out extensive research work, in which he reviewed as many books on education as he came across. But more than that, he focused on field work in which he interviewed various residents of the neighborhoods, who gave him anecdotes and ways of living that are represented in the film.


As reflections of all this research work, Lerman talks about his perception of education in Latin America: “From my point of view, there is an education deficit that is becoming more and more accentuated. Although I really appreciate that in Argentina it is public and free, which is not the case in all Latin American countries, whose students come to my country to study at the university for that reason.

“But it is true that they are underfunded and the teachers are not well paid. Above all, the secondary education fringe is very sensitive, with many schools that depend on the will of the teachers, whom I want to make visible”.

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Regarding the violent and drug-trafficking context that is currently in Argentina, the director thinks that it is too complex a subject to the extent that it seems that there is a type of “parallel state”, full of contradictions, elements that are represented in two of the characters with some power throughout the film.

“What I saw is that it is much more than just people who sell drugs and who want to do bad things. Suddenly they want to do works, suddenly they exchange and form part of an economy. While in a broader system, I say this from my personal point of view, I believe that if the drug trade exists up to now it is because it has allowed itself to exist, there are many reigning powers that all this is convenient for them. I know that in Mexico the issue of drug trafficking is a subject that is experienced in a very stark way, but it is found throughout Latin America”, concludes the filmmaker.