Hinsdale high schools to screen ‘Bully’
Screening of “Bully”
Where: Hinsdale Central Auditorium, at 55th and Grant St.
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6 for the public
More information: visit www.bullyproject.com.
Updated: March 1, 2013 6:40AM
HINSDALE — The pain and consequences of bullying can be seen up close in a film that will be screened Wednesday at Hinsdale Central High School.
The documentary, “Bully,” will be shown to students during the afternoon and to the public in the evening.
Jonathan Shotwell said when he joined Hinsdale United Methodist Church as its director of youth ministry programming in September, he asked the youth group, “What issues are you really passionate about?”
“The youth raised many issues that related to bullying and injustices of power imbalance,” Shotwell said.
Shotwell planned to rent “Bully,” which premiered in 2011, to show the kids at the church. But as it was not yet available on DVD, he decided to arrange a free screening open to the public.
Church members formed a committee with students and teachers from Hinsdale Central and South high schools to plan the viewing.
In “Bully,” director Lee Hirsch shows the lives of three students who range in age from 12 to 16 and talks to the parents of two others who committed suicide.
Hirsch, who was bullied through much of his childhood, started work on the film in 2009, when he heard two 11-year-old victims of chronic bullying committed suicide. His goal, he explains on the documentary website, “was to actually capture bullying on camera.” Lee and his producer received permission from a Sioux City School District to film throughout the district during the 2009-10 school year.
The movie shows the bullying problem crosses boundaries of race, age and geography, but it also offers hope for a less violent future.
After students from Hinsdale South’s psychology and sociology classes saw an advance screening of the movie, they wanted to be sure others saw it, too.
“Word just flew,” said Tito Ponce, a member of the school’s Peer Leadership Network and Gay-Straight Alliance, which helped plan the showing.
Audience members will be asked to write their own bullying stories, so they can be shared.
“Just to show how real the situation is, to put it on more of a personal level,” Ponce said.
He hopes students in elementary and middle school will attend with their parents.
“Middle school is when you’re figuring out who you are going to be,” Ponce said. “You can be the mean guy or the nice guy.”
It’s his hope that after seeing “Bully,” more young people will decide on the latter.
Shotwell believes “the power of one person’s actions can manifest equal positive or negative consequences in this world and these youth are committed to positive change.”
Sandy Illian Bosch contributed to this story