Movie poster Bully

A year in the life of America’s bullying crisis

“This year, over 18 million American kids will be bullied, making it the most common form of violence young people in the U.S. experience.”  That was the starting point for Lee Hirsch, an Emmy and Sundance Award winning documentary filmmaker, and producer/writer Cynthia Lowen. Their goal was to make a character driven film that followed the lives and stories of students across the country, starting on the first day of school through to the last day.

With its unprecedented access to Sioux City schools, provided by the district’s long term partnership with the Waitt Foundation and the Waitt Institute, Bully, formerly called “The Bully Project” follows the stories of students, teachers, administrators and parents as they battle bullying.

The film will had its world premier as part of the World Documentary Feature Competition at the 10th Annual Tribeca Film Festival in New York April 23, 2011. The following day, the film was picked up by The Weinstein Company for distribution.

Since then, “Bully” has become a prominent national story, with countless film festivals, awards, and an awareness builder for the movement nationwide. It has been featured on countless U.S. media outlets, including CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, MSNBC, the New York Times, Huffington Post, and many others. The controversy over the MPAA “R” rating for the film has galvanized a national protest, led by Harvy Weinstein and with notables such as Meryl Streep, Ellen Degeneres, Johnny Depp, Whoopi Goldberg, David Boies and Ted Olson,, and Kelly Ripa signing on.

Katy Butler, a high school student from Michigan, who has suffered bullying ramped up this protest with a half a million signatures on a human rights petition at

The film opened in New York and Los Angeles on March 30, 2012.  At the time of release, movie reviewers gave the movie outstanding reviews, emphasizing the film’s honest presentation of teenagers from around the country in the midst of bullying experiences of varying severity.

It was released on Blu Ray, DVD and streaming on demand on February 12, 2013.  It is also available as part of an Educator’s Toolkit.



Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: “The best social documents on film do more than show you what’s wrong in the world – they make it personal. Bully does that with a passion.”

Richard Roeper, “There’s no doubt ‘Bully’ should be required viewing in every classroom in America”

Claudia Puig, USA Today, “An Inspiring and moving documentary.”

Bob Mondello, NPR, “Bully is a wrenching, potentially transformative look at an epidemic of adolescent cruelty and adult paralysis in the nation’s public schools.”


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