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The Empty Classroom, IDB film about high school dropout crisis in Latin America, featured at SXSW education conference

The Empty Classroom, a feature film produced by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), was screened at the South by Southwest Education Conference and Festival (SXSWedu) in Austin, Texas.

The anthology of ten shorts about the high school dropout crisis in Latin America by award-winning directors from the region was among just over a dozen compelling films and documentaries in the education space selected to participate in the festival. 

The Empty Classroom is part of GRADUATE XXI, an IDB initiative to end the high school dropout crisis in Latin America.

“This is the story of a silent education crisis in the region, told by Latin American youth and filmmakers. Our goal is to stimulate a public debate so that we can all work together towards solutions that will universalize secondary education," said Marcelo Cabrol, IDB’s External Relations Manager and executive producer of The Empty Classroom. 

Under the creative direction of Mexican actor, director and producer Gael Garcia Bernal, 11 renowned filmmakers from seven Latin American countries explore a range of issues in education that many countries are grappling with throughout the world. 

Topics include school bullying and violence, achievement gaps among socioeconomic and ethnic groups, and education quality and relevance for 21st century learners. 

By presenting the latest dropout research and data in engaging platforms such as social media, film, and interactive online forums, GRADUATE XXI aims to involve Latin Americans from all walks of life in efforts to improve education systems and increase the number of high school graduates across the region. 

Inter-American Development Bank
The IDB is the main source of multilateral financing and experience for the achievement of sustainable economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

The SXSWedu Conference & Festival fosters innovation in learning by hosting a diverse and energetic community of stakeholders across a variety of backgrounds in education. By providing a platform for collaboration, SXSWedu works to promote creativity and social change. SXSWedu is a component of the South by Southwest family of conferences and festivals. 

Learn more about the film and the movement at