BULLY is a strong documentary that focuses on five young kids who are tormented by some of their classmates, picked on mercilessly day after day just because they seem weak or different.
Fourteen year old Alex tells an off screen interviewer.
"I feel kind of nervous going to school cause I like learning but I have trouble with making friends."
That's an understatement. Alex is a very shy boy who is attacked every day on the bus ride to school. Some of those attacks are captured by director Lee Hirsh, using a small video camera that looks like a still camera.
"They punch me, strangle me, take things from me, sit on me," Alex says.
His mother tells a school official, "He's not safe on that bus."
But the official doesn't believe her. "I've been on that bus. They are just as good as gold." Her denial of the reality of bullying is not uncommon. The prevailing attitude among school administrators seems to be, "Boys will be boys.
But BULLY shows how constant hazing can have disastrous effects--one of the kids in the film committed suicide before the film began production.
As that boys father explains (while we see home movies of the boy), "Kids told him he was worthless, to go hang himself, and I think he got to the point where enough was enough."
BULLY is also a call to action that asks students who witness bullying...to stick up for the victims. And it shows how the father of another suicide victim started a nation wide movement against bullying that this film became part of.
That father tells a huge gathering: "Go out and find that one child, that new kid, standing over there by himself. Be willing to stand up for him."
I wish every middle school and high school student in the country could see BULLY. Once this film is available on video, all schools should buy a copy.
For a brief New York Times video interview with the director go to:
BOY is a charming, coming-of-age comedy-drama about an 11 year old Maori boy who finally gets to meet his long absent father.
The star of BOY is a sweet, high spirited kid who idolizes his long absent father, a lovable loser who comes back home after spending time in prison for burglary.
The film shows how the boy slowly begins to discover that his father (who's played by the film's writer-director, Taika Waititi) isn't a hero after all.
BOY is a clever, whimsical little film whose child actors will charm almost any audience.