There’s nothing a karaoke sing-along can’t heal. At least that seems to be the case for a cadre of endearing Filipino women brought to Baltimore to teach science and math in periled public schools. Woven between these sing-alongs are three archetypal documentary stories packed into one film, only one of which has the depth and intrigue to shine. There’s the fish-out-of-water story: Four women leave their families to build a new and better life. We see their teary goodbyes, the plane ride, the wide-eyed walk around a Subway-laced block; it’s a narrative that’s been done before. Next is the can-they-survive-the-inner-city-school story, which is far more compelling but still not the winner. The tension lies instead in the third and most successful part of the film: the returning-home-and-picking-up-the-pieces story. When Grace returns to the Philippines for her baby son after a year, he cries and pulls away every time she comes close. And then there’s Angel, who must manage the often greedy expectations of her family. You want to slap Uncle Mark when he grabs everything in sight at the grocery store when she’s treating. “We all have to go from rags to riches,” she tells her family. “Not just me. ”
Friday, June 24 at 10:15 a.m.; also on Sunday, June 26 at 4:15 p.m. Both showings at AFI Silver 2.