“It opens our eyes to a hidden reality, and invites us to be part of the needed change to provide equal opportunity to all Mexican kids.” - Cine sin Fronteras

Available Worldwide

Live Panel: Rural and Community Education in Mexico and Finland (Films THE SOWER and WHEN SCHOOL BROKE OUT OF PRISON)

Tuesday May 4
8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. (Seattle time)

THE SOWER Film Director Melissa Elizondo
Educator Carlos Ornelas, Professor Metropolitan Autonomous University, Mexico

WHEN SCHOOL BROKE OUT OF PRISON Film Director Päivi Kapiainen-Heiskanen
Zsuzsa Millei, Professor Faculty of Education and Culture Tampere University, Finland.



• Audience Award Mexican Feature-Length Documentary - Morelia International Film Festival


Melissa Elizondo’s beautifully observant first feature film follows Bartolomé, a Tzotzil teacher who runs a multi-grade one-classroom rural school by himself in Monte de los Olivos, in the high mountains of Chiapas, Mexico. The preschool to sixth grade Tzeltal kids, study mostly independently, with help from each other. “The bigger ones support the little ones… the best teacher for a child is another child, not the teacher. The teacher is there for the most difficult, or for what’s new (Bartolomé says)”. But it’s not academics that matters most here. “The most important thing to me is that whatever they learn, they do so enjoying it and playing.” It’s this teacher´s love for his students autonomy and his respect for them that fosters their integral development and connection to nature (they harvest, swim, hike). His inspired philosophy and, more importantly, his day-to-day practice is brought to light with lovely cinematography. This beacon of hope, however, is surrounded by a community in poverty and social decay. Worrisomely, we’re not sure if the kids at his school will continue to graduation after possibly transitioning to the “telesecundaria” (high school in which they are educated by video programs). The children’s testimonies are especially endearing and their desire to keep studying is a heartfelt call for support.

About the director

THE SOWER is Mexican director Melissa Elizondo’s first feature film. Her admiration for rural teachers inspired her work, in the context of the Mexican Government’s Education Reform in 2013. She started a campaign to fund the continued education of the children featured in this documentary.

You can rent (for free) the films again after your watch window for the rental ends.

Original Title

El Sembrador


Melissa Elizondo



Bonus Content

Trailer Cinematic Spaces in Education Film Festivalette
3 mins

Trailer of the seventh edition of the CIES 2021 Education Film Festivalette.

Rural and Community Education Live Discussion Recording
90 mins

Rural and Community Education Live Discussion Recording
Watch the film to access the bonus material.