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“Maybe, this film suggests, getting power to the powerless is not as impossible as it sounds.” — Kenneth Turan, LA Times

Director: Lee Hirsch
Year: 2011
Country: USA
Running time: 94 mins
Censor Rating: M - offensive language

Photography: Lee Hirsch
Producers: Lee Hirsch, Cynthia Lowen
Editors: Lindsay Utz, Jenny Golden
Music: Ion Furjanic, Justin Rice, Christian Rudder


With: Ja’Meya Jackson, Kelby Johnson, Alex Libby, Kim Lockwood, David Long, Devon Matthews, Barbara Primer, Kirk Smalley, Trey Wallace

A powerfully effective tool in the campaign to drag school bullying out of the dark corners where it thrives, Lee Hirsch’s documentary made headlines when American censors, citing use of the f-word, made it forbidden viewing for the very audience it was designed to serve. No such restrictions exist here. — BG

“Lee Hirsch’s film is a potent and provocative look at a problem that’s out of control, what with 13 million American kids a year being bullied, and some of them even taking their own lives. Hirsch goes beyond statistics to focus on a handful of bullied students… Alex, 12, is punched and ridiculed without remorse, while school administrators tell his parents that ‘boys will be boys.’ Kelby, 16, is an athlete who comes out as gay, only to face being ostracized and run down by a car. Ja’Meya, 14, is so traumatized that she takes a gun onto her school bus to scare off bullies and faces 22 felony charges.

The families of two suicides – one boy was 17, the other 11 – try to organize on a national level, pressing students and school officials to pull the issue out of dark corners and take a stand for the silent. As one parent says to a school official who tries to brush the topic away: ‘You politicianed me.’ Bully isn’t politics. It’s a heartfelt cry for help.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“While the film focuses on the specific struggles of five families, it is also about – and part of – the emergence of a movement… Its primary audience is not middle-aged intellectuals but middle-school students caught in the middle of the crisis it so powerfully illuminates.” — A.O. Scott, NY Times


NZIFF STAFF PICK: Brooke Hawe, Taylor Sanders, Sharon Byrne, Glenis Giles

If you are concerned about or have been affected by bullying there are a number of websites online that will provide support and advice, including:

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