Wallace Foundation’s $1.5 million funds Lending and Mrazek’s doc on innovative school principals

Armed with a $1.5 million grant from the Wallace Foundation, Oscar nominee Tod Lending is in production on a feature-length documentary about principals turning around their troubled public schools.

Lending is directing the presently untitled film with David Mrazek, for planned broadcast in 2009. They’re producing through Lending’s nonprofit Ethno Pictures.

“When I look at where substantial change needs to occur in our society, I look at the educational system,” Lending said. “That’s where the culture grows out of. It’s always been an interest of mine, and when this project came along I was inspired and excited to do something.”

Lending and Mrazek are following three innovative high school principals in high-risk areas: a majority-Latino school on the Northwest Side, a majority-African American school on the West Side, and a majority-white school in Springfield.

Lending said they’re still awaiting final clearance from public school administrators to access one of the Chicago schools.