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"The Bad Kids"

U.S. Documentary Competition


Determined teachers fight long odds in "The Bad Kids," a slice-of-life documentary of the struggles in a high school for at-risk youth in California's Mojave Desert. Black Rock High School takes the so-called "bad kids," students who have been truant, are at risk of dropping out, or have had run-ins with the law. Directors Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe train their cameras on the daily routines of the school, with a particular focus on the principal, Vonda Viland — known to the students as Miss V — who listens to the students' problems and tries to encourage them to succeed. The cameras also venture into the lives of a couple of the students — showing families caught in poverty, drugs, early parenthood and other ills. The movie is at its best, though, when Fulton and Pepe apply their verité approach to the school's process.

— Sean P. Means

"The Bad Kids" screens again at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival: Saturday, 8:30 a.m., Egyptian Theatre, Park City; Saturday, 9:30 p.m., Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Salt Lake City; Tuesday, noon, Sundance Mountain Resort Screening Room; Wednesday, 3 p.m., Library Center Theatre, Park City; Friday, Jan. 29, 9:30 p.m., Redstone Cinema 1, Park City.