Following the successful New York/L.A. premiere of “Bully” distributor Harvey Weinstein and filmmaker Lee Hirsch will open the compelling documentary in cities across the U.S. April 13, 2012. Last week the heavy-hitting documentary opened in five theaters and made an average of $23,000 per-theater in a single night.

Here in Sacramento “Bully” will premiere at the Tower Theater for invited guests Tuesday, April 10 then open for a limited run beginning Friday, April 13th.

During the 2009-2010 school year, director Hirsch and his crew followed five families affected by youth bullying by their peers, including two who’s children committed suicide after persistent and intense mental and physical bullying.

“This is a film that should be mandatory for every junior and senior high student to see,” explained Benancio Garza, twenty-year old board member and youth leader for Equality Action NOW, a Sacramento grassroots civil rights organization. “Peer abuse is much more prevalent in our schools then anyone really knows. That is why I believe along with our youth, every single parent, teacher and administrator in Sacramento school districts should be made to see it.”

The documentary gained national attention for the Weinstein Company’s attempt with the Motion Picture Association of America to overturn its “R” rating because of a smattering of bad words spoken by the bullies themselves. Rather than editing out the profane language and dulling the impact that viewers witness these bullies have on their victims, Weinstein decided to release the film “unrated”.

In a surprise move, just days before its April 13 expansion to 55 markets, the Weinstein Company, with the help from Prop 8 attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson and thousands of letters from anti-bullying supporters, announced that the NPAA has lowered the R rating to PG-13.

The scene that has been the focus of controversy is an intense one that shows teen Alex Libby being bullied and harassed on a bus. That scene is fully intact and unedited. Other scenes were edited because of a few f-bombs in order to get the PG-13 rating; however it did not take away the film’s honest and disturbing nature.

Along with Equality Action NOW, helping to get the word out about “Bully” is a local organization, B.R.A.V.E. (Bullies Really Are Violating Everyone) Society. Founder, Lisa Ford Berry, started the organization after her son Michael Joseph Berry was a “victim of peer abuse-driven bullycide on his 17th birthday, September 15, 2008 at Mira Loma High School”.

Berry continues about her hopes for the documentary. “Every time a child dies because of peer-driven bullycide, which is a societal failure whenever an adult or bystander makes a choice to be apathetically indifferent to the suffering of all our children – that is a mockery of all we hold dear. It is my hope “Bully” is able, not only to raise peer abuse awareness to unprecedented levels, but also to keep it raised in a way no one else has been able to do.”

“Sadly, not even the deaths of our children, the suffering of our children, or the injustice our children have endured, have been able to keep the light firmly on peer abuse awareness. I pray this movie is able to change this fact.”

“Bully” opens Friday, April 13, 2012 at the Tower Theater here in Sacramento for a limited engagement. Please consult your local movie listings for times it is being shown.


By Ken Pierce