Speak Up

Babble – Strollerderby: “…Hirsch gives a lot of credit to East Middle School in Sioux City, Iowa, where the documentary was shot: “It took a lot of courage for them to allow us to make this film. It was very brave. Most schools wouldn’t have done it. This is a district, a superintendent wanting to be better. Even Alex’s own parents were unaware that he was being bullied like this. They knew only that “something” was wrong: their son was not the same child he had been. He was unhappy and withdrawn. “If you have ever searched for an answer to a problem and were unable to find it, and felt completely defeated … only to find that the answer was the worst answer in the world — that’s how we felt,” explains Jackie Libby, Alex’s mom. But though Alex is now at a different school and has many friends, she insists he hasn’t changed. What she sees is who he used to be. “It is incredible,” she says. “My family and I discussed it: there is no greater gift than getting your child back. The Longs don’t get that option, so we want to pay it forward. We want this for more families.” Hirsch describes Alex as a “joy to watch,” and Alex himself now offers advice to kids experiencing the same struggles he did. “Tell someone about it,” he says. “Being alone makes you feel worse. Speak up. If you see it happening to someone else, tell a friend…” – Danielle Smith (READ MORE)

The Daily Beast: “…Hirsch said he would love for children and teens to understand the power they have to stop bullying the next time they see or hear it happening. There are so many ways for kids to be change-makers, he said. Some kids have the comfort level to stop bullying directly, while others have different strategies that include sending a note or finding the victim later and saying, “Come sit with me,” or “Let’s talk to someone together.” His final advice: simply be creative with ways to become an upstander…” – Emily Anne Rigal (READ MORE)

National Post: “…Hirsch, 39, says the censors wanted him to clean up the language, but, he says, “Unfortunately, bullying is about language. It’s about how people are insulted. It’s about what’s said. And to clean all that up, our movie would look like the poster, which is PG-approved, which has words like ‘loser’ and ‘dork.’ That’s not how kids are bullied. They’re bullied with profanity. There’s not a student in Canada or anywhere else that doesn’t hear these words a thousand times a day.” Coincidentally, Bully comes out at the same time as the PG-rated film, The Hunger Games, set in a dystopian future when teenagers kill one another. “The release of Hunger Games in the same breath as Bully has really helped people to realize the hypocrisy of the MPAA,” Hirsch says. The real shocks in Bully, though, come in its depiction of bullying itself, especially in the case of Alex. The filmmakers were embedded in classrooms, in school halls and on the buses, capturing endless scenes of abuse on their small, unobtrusive camera. The boldness of the bullies is a surprise, especially in the presence of adults. Hirsch says he was transparent with school officials, faculty and students about what he was doing, but he quickly started to “blend in with the walls…” – Jay Stone (READ MORE)

Lee Hirsch (born 1972) is a documentary filmmaker. Hirsch is a graduate of The Putney School in Vermont, and a graduate of Hampshire College, in Amherst, Massachusetts. He wrote and directed the documentary Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony…His film Bully premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. Bully follows several families from across ethnic, cultural and geographic boundaries as they grapple with the tragedy their family has faced as a result of bullying. Several of the families profiled in the film had lost a child because he or she became fed up with the mostly mental and sometimes physical abuse they experienced on a daily, even hourly basis at school, on the school bus, and in their communities. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Related Reading: