The Bad Kids

Located in an impoverished Mojave Desert community, Black Rock Continuation High School is an alternative school for students at risk of dropping out; Black Rock is Show more their last chance. Extraordinary educators believe that empathy and life skills, more than academics, give these underserved students command of their own futures. Show less

Badkids 3 0 pubstills jennifer&niece
Series
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
March 20, 2017
Length
90 minutes
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2016 International Documentary Association (IDA)-Best Music
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2016 Sundance Film Festival-Special Jury Awards – Vérité Filmmaking
  • Co-Director

    Lou Pepe

    Lou Pepe directs both documentary and fiction films, among them Lost in La Mancha, shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary and winner of the Evening Standard’s Peter Sellers Award for Best Comedy; Brothers of the Head, winner of the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature; and Malkovich’s Mail, an original documentary special for Show more AMC. La Mancha and Brothers were distributed theatrically by IFC Films in the U.S. and screened at international film festivals including: Berlin, Toronto, Telluride, Chicago, IDFA, Edinburgh, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Tribeca, SXSW, San Francisco, and Cinema Jove Valencia. Pepe holds an MFA in Film & Media Arts from Temple University, has attended the Sundance Institute's Feature Film Directors Lab, and is currently a fellow of the Sundance Documentary Film Program. He has collaborated with co-director Keith Fulton for over 20 years. As Low Key Pictures they have received commissions from the Gates and Participant Foundations to create documentary programming about public education, including The New Teacher Experience and the web-series I Am Education. Pepe’s interest in education also extends to practice, and he serves as the Faculty Director of Temple University’s L.A. Study-Away program for aspiring young filmmakers. Show less

    Co-Director

    Keith Fulton

    Keith Fulton directs both documentary and fiction films, among them Lost in La Mancha, shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary and winner of the Evening Standard’s Peter Sellers Award for Best Comedy; Brothers of the Head, winner of the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature; and Malkovich’s Mail, an original documentary special Show more for AMC. La Mancha and Brothers were distributed theatrically by IFC Films in the U.S. and screened at international film festivals including: Berlin, Toronto, Telluride, Chicago, IDFA, Edinburgh, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Tribeca, SXSW, San Francisco, and Cinema Jove Valencia. Fulton holds an MFA in Radio-TV-Film from Temple University, has attended the Sundance Institute's Feature Film Screenwriters Lab, and is a current fellow of the Sundance Documentary Film Program. He has collaborated with co-director Lou Pepe for over 20 years. As Low Key Pictures they have received commissions from the Gates and Participant Foundations to create documentary programming about public education, including The New Teacher Experience and the web-series I Am Education. Fulton’s interest in education also extends to practice, and he actively participates as an instructor and mentor in Temple University’s L.A. Study-Away program for aspiring young filmmakers. Show less

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    The Film

    On any day at Black Rock High, "Pomp and Circumstance" might echo in the hallway, and a new graduate will march through a column of cheering kids whose pride and camaraderie are more than palpable. A diploma here is a momentous achievement. Principal Vonda Viland runs Black Rock Continuation High like a one-room schoolhouse. She knows the names and lives of each of her students and coaches them tirelessly through every stage of their journey. She doesn’t foster false hopes or dreams of unlikely riches. Her philosophy embodies empathy and realism, and given Black Rock’s rising graduation rate, it seems to be working. Her students' lives run the gamut of tragedy: unwanted pregnancies, abuse, homelessness; and unlike other teenagers, they view their high school education as a critical second chance. Most have been deprived of parental love and support, but the attention they receive at Black Rock motivates them to earn their diplomas and begin responsible lives.

    The Bad Kids is a day-to-day portrait of Viland’s work and the journeys of several of her students towards graduation and an uncertain future. It is not a story of triumph against all odds — because this isn’t the reality of these students' lives or expectations — but a story of taking achievable steps toward pride and security.

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