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The Backward Class: a must see

The delights of the beeg ceety: sitting on a very grey Saturday morning watching the snow fall, suddenly rising to my feet and off, off into downtown to do one of my favourite things: see a documentary. I renewed my membership at the Bloor Cinema; I am now a Silver member, to go with my silver hair. My commitment to documentary.

Emerged later that afternoon filled to the brim with thought and feeling and joy. What a superb film: The Backward Class, the first doc of a young UBC film graduate who was there afterwards to answer questions. She told us that when going to India, she wanted to volunteer somewhere and ended up by chance at Shanti Bhavan, a school that takes the Untouchable children from India’s lowest caste out of the slums to a tranquil rural setting and gives them a new home and a first rate education. She was so taken with the place and the children that she managed on a shoestring to make her documentary.

The film follows the final school year of the first group of children to go from the earliest grade to Grade 12, when they have to pass rigorous exams to be able to enter university. Along the way, we not only get to know these beautiful young people, we go home with them, see where their families live in unbelievable poverty, meet their parents who often cannot read or write. We explore the identity crisis these kids have, coming from such a background, now highly educated and able to speak fluent English and play the piano. We meet the spectacular principal of the school who has devoted years of her life to the project, and Dr. George, the angel behind it all, who paid personally for the entire set-up until the financial crash of 2008 nearly wiped him, and the school, out. But it has survived and continues to provide new life and a future for hundreds of children.

The last word of the film, which took five years to finish, tells us the first class have graduated from university and are working at places like Goldman Sachs and Mercedes. A miraculous transformation. And 10% to 50% of what they make goes back to their families and to the school.

Do yourself a favour if you are nearby, friends – take yourself out of the Canadian winter for a few hours and see this inspiring and very moving film.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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