Keith Fulton & Lou Pepe
United States, 101 min
Located in an impoverished Mojave Desert community, Black Rock High School is an alternative school for students at risk of dropping out. Directors Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe (Lost in La Mancha, 2002), spent a year at the school, following Principal Vonda Viland as she coaches three at-risk teens : a new father who can’t support his family, a young woman grappling with sexual abuse, and an angry young man from an unstable home. The title The Bad Kids is clearly provocative and challenges the easily judgmental look many people give to those teenagers who don’t cope with the “normal” school path, and blame them for their “failure”. Between intimate portraits and a wider look at the background and context, the directors focus on the possibility of breaking the circle by showing an alternative to this common way of thinking. Superbly photographed sequences counterpoint the harshness of the context, respectfully portraying, within each character, the inner strength, beauty and hope.
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