Updated: Monday, 21 May 2012, 11:55 AM EDT
Published : Monday, 21 May 2012, 11:48 AM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - From a sofa in the WISH-TV studios, ‘Bully’ Director Lee Hirsch relives a seminal moment when one of five kids featured in his documentary on bullying finally expresses to his mother the extent to which he has been bullied.
Alex, 12, is a middle school student from Sioux City, Iowa and is described as a “sweet natured kid wanting more than anything to fit in.” He is asked by his mother if it makes him feel good when the other kids punch, kick and stab him with pencils. He responds by saying “I don’t think I feel anything anymore.”
“When Alex says [to his mom] 'I don't think I feel anything anymore,' it's one of those things that the audience doesn’t forget, but as a filmmaker, you get taken right back to that moment,’” says Hirsch.
The scene will be one of many that students, parents and educators discuss in Monday night’s Town Hall Q&A with Hirsch, moderated by WISH-TV Anchor Karen Hensel, immediately following a special screening at 6 p.m. Monday at AMC Washington Square, 10280 E. Washington Street.
Before the evening appearance, Hirsch made an appearance on Daybreak Monday morning and spoke with Anchors Scott Sander and Lauren Lowrey.
“One of the first things we can do, and what I think this film does, is it gives us a frame. It gives us a way to look at this issue and say ‘this is not just a kids-will-be-kids, this is not reasonable to expect any child to have to endure that.’"
For three years, Hirsch was immersed in the stories of five families from across ethnic, cultural and geographic boundaries as they grappled with the tragedy their family has faced as a result of bullying. Hirsch filmed in Georgia, Mississippi and Oklahoma, and was given access to shoot in two schools in Sioux City, Iowa. After years of filming, ‘Bully’ premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. It has now become the highest grossing documentary of 2012.
"We are about to cross over the first milestone in our social action campaign which is to have 100,000 students see the film probably by the end of this week. And that’s not just seeing it! That's seeing it with their teachers, with their educators, in their curriculum. From all over the country whole districts have gone [for example] Cincinnati just went. But they go together and they talk about it and work through it," said Hirsch.
The film comes at a time when bullying is no longer tolerated as a fact of life or a right of passage for middle school students. The issue is being redefined as a social problem which has incited an entire movement of tolerance, which WISH-TV has covered extensively.
When asked what parents should do when they find out their child is being bullied, Hirsch advocated keeping a record of conversations you have with adults in the school district.
“What’s really important when you're working with the school is that you document. Keep a record of who you've talked to, what they've said and what you've said. Sometimes things have to escalate from a teacher to a principal to a district level person to the superintendent and even to the school board. Sometimes, like we've seen here at WISH-TV, you bring it to the media."
Because we've received such a huge demand to see the movie with the director, we asked the theater to make more seats available. Tickets will be available to attend the screening and meet Hirsch for the discounted rate of $5. Those tickets can be purchased at the box office or online here .