Carrying the aspirations of an entire social class, the students of the THE BACKWARD CLASS are a destitute group of twelfth graders in Bangalore, India who have been selected to attend a prestigious boarding school.
Funded by a wealthy investor with strong ideas about how education can transform the social structure of a country, Shanti Bhaven is now home to several Dalit (“untouchable”) caste students.
After 13 years of preparation, their future boils down to the Indian School Certificate (ISC) national high school graduation exams, which they are the first in their caste to write.
Success on these exams will not only give these “untouchables” a brighter future, but the chance to break the cycle of poverty and ostracism that has entrenched their families for generations.
With exam day nearing, the immense pressure put on the students escalates. Overwhelmed by the expectations of parents, teachers and the founder of the school, the stress becomes too much for some, while others find the support they need in their peers.
This touching and inspiring story by Canadian director Madeleine Grant took home the 2014 Audience Award at Hot Docs. It will leave you rooting for the success of these Indian youth who are given one shot to change the lives of their families for generations to come.