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Bloor Cinema Release: The Backward Class

February 6, 2015

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The Backward Class PosterAfter winning the Audience Award at Hot Docs last year, The Backward Class is finally opening at the Bloor Cinema today, and will be playing there until February 16th.  Tickets and showtimes can be found right here.

This heartfelt and highly recommended documentary follows the fifteen original students at Shanti Bhavan, a school in rural India that is run on donations and volunteer help, dedicated to educating kids from the poorest areas of the country.

Bookended with narration from their beautifully written personal statement essays, we follow the students as they prepare to graduate from their final year at the school, and become the first from their “untouchable” caste to take the grade twelve exams.

They are under immense pressure to pass their courses, because good grades are their only hope of going to university, instead of returning to the slums where their families still live.  First time director Madeline Grant lived at the school while making the film, and this sense of intimacy shows through both in moments of levity as the students play to the camera, and as the suspense ratchets up before and during the actual exams.

Because of this, The Backward Class feels completely natural and relatable, allowing us to really become invested in the lives of these students.  This is a moving and inspiring documentary that affectively shows the heartbreaking realities of being poor, but also provides a glimmer of hope, proving that education is one of the best resources for breaking the cycle of poverty.  Great stuff, and a real crowdpleaser.

Also opening this weekend at the Bloor Cinema is Dogs on the Inside, a look at the relationships that develop between rescue dogs and inmates at a Massachusetts prison, that promises a healthy dose of cute dogs and feel good inspiration.  Tickets and showtimes for that one are right here.

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