Located in an impoverished Mojave Desert community, Black Rock Continuation High School is one of California’s alternative schools for students at risk of dropping out. Every student here has fallen so far behind in credits that they have no hope of earning a diploma at a traditional high school. Black Rock is their last chance. The Bad Kids is an observational documentary that chronicles one extraordinary principal’s mission to realize the potential of these students whom the system has deemed lost causes. Employing a verité approach during a year at the school, our film follows 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––through the traumas and obstacles that rob them of their spirit and threaten their goal of a high school diploma.
“Perceptive and persuasive… an insightful, affecting film.” –The Hollywood Reporter