Tribeca documentaries examine bullying and toxicity

Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:08am EDT
 
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Pentagon spokesman Greg Wolf said Marine Corps officials have yet to see the film, but since 1991 have been "supporting scientific and public health organizations" studying "these issues."

He said the Pentagon had made it a priority to work to resolve the issue. "The loss of a child is devastating and Master Sgt. Ensminger has been tireless in his efforts to find answers," Wolf said.

"The Bully Project," follows several U.S. families devastated by bullying. The subject has been a staple of U.S. talk shows in the past several years with high profile suicides such as 11-year-old Carl Walker Hoover, who hanged himself in 2009 after being bullied by schoolmates in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Director Lee Hirsch began making the film two and half years ago and did not know "it would become this sort of hot button issue that it is currently," noting "perhaps the film will arrive at a moment it can really be received."

The documentary shows families from Texas to Oklahoma who have been victims of bullying, including two who have had sons commit suicide. It highlights inadequacies in schools and communities in protecting families, and a lack of education, such as encouraging bystanders to intervene.

Hirsch, who said some of his motivation came from his own experience of verbal and physical bullying while growing up, said social media had helped spread awareness of the issue. "It has become a different conversation, nationally," he said.

Besides US-focused documentaries, nonfiction films from overseas include "Give Up Tomorrow" about the case of Paco Larranaga arrested for the murder of two sisters in the Philippines in 1997. The film points to a number of holes in his conviction and suggests widespread corruption in that country.

In addition, 15 music-themed feature films are showing at Tribeca. Cinematic accounts of Kings of Leon, rocker Ozzy Osbourne and South African singer Miriam Makeba will also screen.