LCC Hosts Indie Lens Pop Up- The Bad Kids
January 20, 2017
Parsons, KS- Indie Lens Pop-Up, presented by ITVS, Independent Lens, and Labette Community College is excited to present the winner of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Award for Vérité Filmmaking, The Bad Kids, a film by Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe.
Located in an isolated and impoverished Mojave Desert community, Black Rock Continuation High School is one of California’s alternative schools for at-risk students. Every student there has fallen so far behind that they have little hope of earning a diploma at a traditional high school — Black Rock is their last chance. But Principal Vonda Viland and the teachers at Black Rock are on a mission to realize the potential of students who have been deemed lost causes by the system. Powerful and inspiring, The Bad Kids follows Viland and her staff over a year as they coach at-risk teens with compassion, respect, and a seemingly endless supply of patience. The film focuses on three students — Lee, a new father who struggles to support his family; Jennifer, a young woman grappling with sexual abuse; and Joey, a young man from an unstable home with a history of drug addiction — as they work through the traumas and obstacles that threaten their spirit and futures. The Bad Kids is part of “American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen,” a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help communities ensure more students graduate ready for college and careers.
When the filmmakers first stepped through the doors of Black Rock High on a scouting trip for another film, they were impressed. “What we saw there left an indelible mark,” said Fulton and Pepe, who co-directed the award-winning Lost in La Mancha. “Here was a principal who had a kind word or nod of recognition for each and every kid; a secretary who spent all day on the phone with parents; teachers who didn’t lecture but moved through their classrooms in quiet consultation with each student. And these supposed ‘bad kids’ lining the hallways with their guitars, their laughter, and their clear and familial support for one another. All of this at a public school — with rising graduation rates.”
Black Rock High School offers insight into how education can combat the crippling effects of poverty on the lives of at-risk youth. For Viland and her staff, coping with the traumas her students suffer in their home lives takes precedence over force-feeding them facts and figures. At Black Rock, it is understood that it might be necessary to focus an entire year on just keeping a student in school and trying to understand the challenges they face before expecting academic progress. Realistic preparations for the work force and life’s responsibilities outweigh planning for higher education: these students can pursue a college education only if they first know how to support themselves.
The Bad Kids is not a story of triumph against all odds, because that isn’t the reality of these students' lives or expectations. It is a story of taking achievable steps toward pride and a better future.
A free film screening will be previewed Tuesday, February 7 at 6:30pm in the LCC Thiebaud Theatre. Earnest Moreland, Director of the Youth Crisis Center will be a speaker for the event. Collection items for the Youth Crisis Center will be accepted for entrance into a drawing for prizes. Items needed include toiletries, paper products, and boys socks.