State of Affairs

Backpack Full Of Cash

Sarah Mondale
Screening time  
01.03. / Thursday, 21:00 - 23:00 Theatre 1  
Narrated by Matt Damon and filmed in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Nashville and other U.S. cities, BACKPACK FULL OF CASH explores the growing privatization of public education and its devastating impact on society's most vulnerable children.

At the start of the 2013/2014 school year, South Philadelphia High School's student-body poverty rate was around 90 per cent and funding was cut to the bone. The principal tried to cope with this by having no music teacher, no librarian, and just two counsellors for more than 1,000 students. Meanwhile, just a few miles away, in Center City, students are able to use high-tech tools to allow remote learning via laptop computer. What’s the difference? The school In Center City is a ‘charter school’: a private enterprise that accepts public funding. In Louisiana, religious schools receive public money in the form of ‘vouchers’, but are not held to the same standards as the public schools. This sobering documentary, narrated by actor Matt Damon, explores the rising trend among many parents who, spurred on by politicians and wealthy advocates of privatization, are allowed to spend their child’s ‘backpack full of cash’ – their allotment of public-education dollars – at whichever school they choose.


Sarah Mondale

Sarah Mondale co-founded Stone Lantern Films in 1986 with producer Sarah Patton. Their non-profit company has a long record of award-winning documentary films, many of which explore the essential role of public institutions in a democracy. Mondale directed and co-produced the Emmy-nominated Asylum: The Story of St. Elizabeths Hospital, School: The Story of American Public Education, Marcel Proust: A Writer’s Life and Megamall. Her most recent work is the feature-length documentary Backpack Full of Cash.

General sponsor

Backpack Full Of Cash

2017, 95'

Directed by:
Sarah Mondale

Screenplay by:
Sarah Mondale, Vera Aronow, Sheila Curran Bernard

Roger Grange

Edited by:
Vera Aronow, Marian Hunter

Tom Phillips

Vera Aronow, Sarah Mondale

Produced by:
Stone Lantern Films

Festivals & Awards:

Philadelphia Film Festival 2016 – The Sharon Pinkenson Local Feature Honorable Mention, Audience Award Honorable Mention; Nashville Film Festival 2017; FilmFestDC 2017; Seattle International Film Festival 2017; Macon Film Festival 2017; Ellensburg Film Festival 2017; Heartland Film Festival 2017