By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 27, 2010 at 2:27 PM

Although those packing the house at the Oriental Theatre were among the first Milwaukeeans to see Davis' Guggenheim's much-discussed "Waiting for Superman," the rest of Milwaukee still has to wait.

The screening was one of two advance sell-outs for the sophomore edition of the Milwaukee Film Festival and was followed by a panel discussion that drew an overflow crowd across the street at the Kenilworth Building.

There was a long line up Farwell as folks waited to get in to grab seats for "Waiting for Superman," which focuses on public education. Guggenheim was previously best known for directing "An Inconvenient Truth." He also directed "It Might Get Loud," reviewed here last year.

Inside, there were almost no empty seats and the capacity crowd cheered and jeered and clapped during portions of the film, which has been described by some as pro-charter school, anti-teacher and anti-teachers' unions.

Going into it with those notions swirling around my head, I found that I agreed with some of those takes and not others.

Early in the film, I was reminded of the time I approached bassist Richard Davis for an interview and he asked if I was a jazz musician. When I replied that I was not, he said, "then why would I want to talk to you?"

When Guggenheim says that he drives past three public schools each morning to take his kids to private school, I briefly understood Davis' point. As a public school dad, committing my family to be a positive force within the system, why would I want to be preached at by a private school dad who chooses to throw rocks at it from outside?

I softened my stance a bit when Guggenheim later says after we ask ourselves if we did the right thing and if we did enough, we must ask ourselves, "what are our obligations to other people's children?"

Of course, everyone will decide the answers for themselves, just as you will decide for yourself about Guggenheim's film and his personal conclusions. 

But what is crystal clear is that -- at least thanks in part to "Waiting for Superman," though certainly not entirely due to the film -- people are again talking about public education in America. And that's a positive step.

Did you see the film yesterday? If so, share your thoughts below. But please, no spoilers for the folks that didn't see it yet.

There will be another preview screening of the film on Tuesday, Oct. 12 at the Oriental before the film officially opens later that week in Milwaukee.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.