Directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch, "Bully" is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. It follows five kids and families over the course of a school year. Their stories include two families who have lost children to suicide and a mother awaiting the fate of her 14-year-old daughter, who has been incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus.
With an intimate glimpse into homes, classrooms, cafeterias and principals' offices, the film offers insight into the often cruel world of bullied children. As teachers, administrators, kids and parents struggle to find answers, "Bully" examines the dire consequences of bullying through the testimony of strong and courageous youth. Through the power of their stories, the film aims to be a catalyst for change in the way we deal with bullying as parents, teachers, children and society as a whole.
After a recent plea to the MPAA by a teen who appears in "Bully," Alex Libby, and Weinstein Company Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein failed to get the film its deserved PG-13 rating by one vote, the Weinstein Company is choosing to move forward with releasing the film unrated by the MPAA on March 30.
Because of the R rating for language of a film that's meant to educate and help parents, teachers, school officials and children with what's become an epidemic in schools around the country, the fight against the rating continues on. The outpouring of support by politicians, schools, parents, celebrities and activists for the film's mission to be seen by those it was made for--children--has been overwhelming. Nearly half a million people have signed Michigan high school student and former bullying victim Katy Butler's petition on Change.org to urge the MPAA to lower the rating.
Said Hirsch, "The small amount of language in the film that's responsible for the R rating is there because it's real. It's what the children who are victims of bullying face on most days. All of our supporters see that, and we're grateful for the support we've received across the board. I know the kids will come, so it's up to the theaters to let them in."
"The kids and families in this film are true heroes, and we believe theater owners everywhere will step up and do what's right for the benefit of all of the children out there who have been bullied or may have otherwise become bullies themselves. We're working to do everything we can to make this film available to as many parents, teachers and students across the country," said Stephen Bruno, president of marketing for the Weinstein Company.
For parents or teachers who are looking for more information or who may have concerns about showing children a movie unrated by the MPAA, please read Common Sense Media's rating details of the film at www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/bully.
"While it's often heartbreaking and deals with tough issues like suicide, the movie addresses bullying in a frank and relatable way that is age appropriate for teens and relevant for middle schoolers if an adult is present to guide the discussion," said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media. "The MPAA's ratings system is inadequate when it comes to looking at a movie's content through the lens of its larger thematic issues. Common Sense Media provides alternative ratings for parents who are looking for more guidance and context than the MPAA provides."
"Bully" will be released on Friday, March 30 in New York at the Angelika Film Center and AMC Lincoln Square.