The Backward Class
The Backward Class
The Backward Class
The Backward Class
The Backward Class

The Backward Class

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    • Directed by: Madeleine Grant
    • Released: 2019 (educational)
    • Year of Production: 2014
Running Time: 91 min
Language: English & Tamil
Subtitle Options: English Closed Captions
Subjects: Asian Studies, Children, Youth and Family Studies


They come from the poorest of the Indian poor, but they’re being given an education worthy of the wealthiest of the wealthy. 

Their school is a social experiment, whose sources of funding are struggling through the economic crisis. Their families and socio-economic contemporaries remain entrenched in the generations of destitution long associated with their Dalit ('untouchable') caste. They are the twelfth graders of Shanti Bhavan School, living proof of the forgotten potential of the rural poor.

A hopeful coming-of-age story - the first class of Dalit ("untouchable") caste students in India's history, undertake the national ISC high school graduation exams as a means to a brighter future for themselves, and an opportunity to break their families out of the destitution they've been entrenched in for generations.


Winner of the Audience Award at Hot Docs Festival 2015, Can-Am Grand Prix of Cinema Award at the Windsor International Film Festival, and Documentary Award at the Whistler Film Festival

“...a genuinely moving and inspiring documentary that will resonate with viewers” - Craig Takeuchi, The Georgia Straight

 “...intimately captures an inspiring story of perseverance, and… doesn’t shy away from addressing the very real challenges, sacrifices, and ethical dilemmas that are being faced.” -  Jury - Alliance of Women Film Journalists 

“Had me crying and cheering at the end…” - Alex Hutt, Canadian Film Review

"...Grant spends enough time with her subjects to fully illustrate what they have to overcome and how insurmountable it must seem to all of them." - Andrew Parker, Dork Shelf 


About the filmmaker 
Madeleine Grant is a graduate of the University of British Columbia's Film Production program. Her previous work has played at numerous international film festivals, including the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Montreal World Film Festival. In 2014 Madeleine’s first feature documentary ‘The Backward Class’ had its world premiere at the Hot Docs International Film Festival, where it won the Audience Choice Award. Madeleine was also the recipient of the Hot Docs Lindalee Tracey Award, in honour of an emerging Canadian filmmaker whose work displays a passionate point of view, a strong sense of social justice, and a certain joie de vivre. After five years of dividing her time between rural India and Canada, Madeleine is currently predominantly based in Vancouver, B.C. 


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