Located in an impoverished community in California’s Mojave Desert is Black Rock Continuation High School, an alternative school for at-risk students. Every student here has fallen so far behind in credits that they have little hope of earning a diploma at a traditional high school. Black Rock is their last chance. But extraordinary educators like principal Vonda Viland and her staff are on a mission to realize the potential of students who have been deemed lost causes. They believe that empathy and life skills, more than academics, give these underserved students command of their own futures and at least a fighting chance. Winner of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Award for Vérité Filmmaking, The Bad Kids focuses on three students as they work through the traumas and obstacles that rob them of their spirit and threaten their futures.
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.