This year, more than 13 million American kids will be bullied, making it the most common form of violence young people in the United States experience. Directed by filmmaker Lee Hirsch, BULLY is a character-driven documentary—at its heart are those with the most at stake and whose stories each represent a different facet of this bullying crisis.
Following five kids and families over the course of a school year, the film confronts the most tragic outcomes of bullying, including the stories of two families that have lost children to suicide and a mother who waits to learn the fate of her 14-year-old daughter, incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus to take on her tormentors. With rare access to the Sioux City Community School District, the film also gives an intimate glimpse into school buses, classrooms, cafeterias, and principals’ offices, offering insight into the often cruel world children face, as teachers, administrators, and parents struggle to find answers.
“It is critical that the film reveals the true darkness that is bullying,” explains director Lee Hirsch. “We don’t have a way to say how destructive this is.” These stories are provided without the usual expert interviews. Hirsch says that he chose to exclude analysis from the film. “Instead we thought, ‘Let’s create something undeniable and emotional,’” he explains. Hirsch intends for the movie to serve as a starting point for conversation and a catalyst for developing more effective strategies for combating bullying.