Backpack Full of Cash

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USA | 2016 | 96 minutes | Sarah Mondale

Matt Damon narrates this incredibly timely warning about America's public schools, which have fallen into a growing, greedy, and woefully under-regulated system of privatization that is having a heartbreaking impact on our most vulnerable children.

"A beautiful film—tremendously moving! ...Everyone who values democratic education needs to see this."—Jonathan Kozol, author of "Savage Inequalities"

Friday, May 19, 2017

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  • On Standby
  • Matinee

SIFF Cinema Uptown

3:30 PM Date has passed

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

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  • Matinee

AMC Pacific Place

7:00 PM Date has passed LLimited Availability Director Sarah Mondale and Producer Vera Aronow scheduled to attend

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

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  • Matinee

AMC Pacific Place

4:30 PM Date has passed Director Sarah Mondale and Producer Vera Aronow scheduled to attend

At the start of the 2013-2014 school year, South Philadelphia High School's student-body poverty rate was in excess of 90 percent. The principal tried to cope with this by having no music teacher, no librarian, and just two counselors for more than 1,000 students. Meanwhile, just a few miles away, in North Philly, students are able to use high-tech tools to allow remote learning via laptop computer. What's the difference? The school to the north is a "charter school": a for-profit enterprise that accepts public funding in the form of "vouchers," but is not held to the same standards as the public school to the south. This sobering documentary by Sarah Mondale, narrated by actor Matt Damon, explores the rising trend among many higher-income, socially conservative parents who want to spend their child's "backpack full of cash"—their lifetime allotment of public-education dollars—at whichever school they choose. Mondale investigates schools across the country, visiting similar charter-schools, where eight-year-olds in Nashville are given dozens of standardized tests in a school year, or in New Orleans, where tax dollars are being siphoned from cash-strapped public schools to teach creationism as scientific fact. Backpack Full of Cash is a wake-up call for those who believe high-quality public education should be available to people of all incomes and races and should not be left to the "free market" to decide.

Director Biography

Sarah Mondale directed the award-winning documentaries Asylum and Marcel Proust: A Writer's Life, then gained popularity in 2001 when she directed and co-produced the television documentary series "School: The Story of American Public Education" narrated by Meryl Streep. She went on to co-write, produce, and direct the documentary Megamall in 2010.

Sponsored by KNKX

  • Director: Sarah Mondale
  • Principal Cast: Matt Damon
  • Premiere Status: Seattle
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2016
  • Running Time: 96 minutes
  • Producer: Vera Aronow, Sarah Mondale
  • Cinematographers: Roger Grange
  • Editors: Vera Aronow, Marian Hunter
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Filmography: Megamall (2009); Marcel Proust: A Writer's Life (1993)
  • Language: English
  • Format: DCP