The Bully Project premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this past week. Since I had been involved with the film in its early stages, I took my 17-year old son to see it. It got a standing ovation.
It got a standing O for a couple of reasons, I suspect. First, it’s an outstanding piece of cinematography and the audience of film lovers probably appreciated the talent of director Lee Hirsch. But above and beyond the beautiful camera work, the subject matter and the subjects themselves — a handful of families and kids deeply and sometimes tragically affected by bullying — took your breath away. You wanted to crawl into the screen and hug the kids and their parents and beg the misguided school administrators to stop talking and tie back the hands of the bullies on the bus.
It got to everyone. We sat in the front row but you could tell how deeply affected the audience was by the gasps, jeers and the constant sniffling that comes with tears.
This is a brave film, not only from the standpoint of the director’s work but also by producer Cynthia Lowen’s ability to convince the families of the bullies that this needs to be seen. Although there are definitely villains and victims, I applaud the Sioux City, Iowa school system for being the ultimate brave souls in this film. It reminds me of ABC’s Hopkins 24/7 that aired several years back. As I worked on the promotion of that groundbreaking documentary series, I couldn’t help but be in awe of Johns Hopkins Hospital for letting the country inside a very reputable — but not perfect — hospital. I feel the same way about Sioux City. It’s a sacrifice to be vulnerable.
So if you’re interested — which there’s a good chance you might be if you’re one of the caring souls that follow blogs like Tangled Ball — go to their facebook page or The Bully Project web site. We can figure this whole tangled mess out together.