Lillian LaSalle’s award-winning, documentary My Name Is Pedro on South Bronx, Latino maverick educator, Pedro Santana will be released in New York on September 17 at The Maysles Cinema, followed by Los Angeles on October 2 at Laemmle, with major cities to follow.
My Name Is Pedro explores what public education meant to Pedro Santana, and what he, in turn, meant to public education. The film is also especially timely in this moment of national reckoning since the murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests.
Infectious in his optimism, Santana becomes one of the most influential public-school teachers and then administrators in the New York public school system after turning his troubled Bronx middle school, MS 391, around. He is unapologetic in his commitment to create change for kids, no matter the odds. When a glowing front-page New York Times article catapults him into the spotlight, he is recruited and then accepts a promotion to use his famed ‘out of the box’ and transformative practices to save a corrupt and divided suburban school district. But the political challenges there may simply be too great, even for the infallible Santana.
In order to continue his life’s mission that ‘every kid can learn’, (he himself was labeled ‘special ed’ as a child), he realizes that he must venture beyond not only the restrictive ‘four walls’ of the public education system, but also his own neighborhood, city and even his own country.
My Name Is Pedro is a profound story of how one person actualizes learning and positive change in children, adults, environments and communities through an ‘impact’ ripple effect strategy that he has effortlessly perfected. The film is also an essential and timely reminder of the importance of great educators that exist within the infrastructure of our country’s public education system.
The film has won multiple awards including Winner: Best Documentary, at Golden Door International Film Festival; Winner: Spotlight on Documentary Award at St. Louis International Film Festival; Winner: Audience Award, at Chicago Latino International Film Festival; Winner: Audience Award, at Brooklyn Film Festival; Winner: Award of Merit, Impact Docs and Winner: Honorable Mention at Woodstock Film Festival.
My Name Is Pedro is a 7 year-long filmmaking journey, marking Lillian LaSalle’s directorial debut.
LaSalle is the Producer of several feature films including, Loggerheads, which premiered in competition at The Sundance Film Festival and Sweet Land, which won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature for writer/director, Ali Selim. LaSalle’s other notable feature Producing credits include: Today’s Special, which premiered at the BFI London Film Festival and won the audience award at the Palm Springs Film Festival, Just Like the Son from director Morgan Freeman, Find Love, Heavy Petting, and Mentor, as well as Southern Belles and American Cannibal: The Road to Reality.
LaSalle is currently Executive Producing the feature length animated feature, The Night Diary, based on the award-winning book, alongside animator/writer Gitanjali Rao (Bombay Rose, Tribeca Film Festival) and writer/director, Sabrina Dahwan, (Monsoon Wedding) with Hyde Park Entertainment. LaSalle will also produce the feature film, Our Lady Of The Snow, from award winning writer/director, Tom Gilroy (Spring Forward, The Cold Lands) .
LaSalle is the recipient of the 2016 Peabody “Futures of Media” Award for Producing the web-series, Halal In The Family, starring Aasif Mandvi.