By Pat McGonigle
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - The award winning documentary Bully is available on DVD starting Tuesday. And the director of this provocative inside look at school bullying says it was a student in the St. Louis area that inspired him to have the movie shown at schools all over the country.
"We had an early screening in St. Louis, it was a youth screening," said director Lee Hirsch.
Bully gives viewers an upfront and often disturbing look at what it means to be bullied and harassed at school. Hirsch had unprecedented access with his camera at several schools for the production of his documentary. One of the most painful storylines involves a middle school student named Alex in Sioux City, Iowa. Alex was so badly tortured by older and bigger students on his school bus that Hirsch eventually put down his camera and asked school officials to intervene.
Hirsch says getting children to intervene when bullying happens is the key to making progress.
And that's precisely what happened shortly after a St. Louis-area student watched Bully last year.
"One of the students (in St. Louis), his name was Max, he said, 'I watched the movie and that day I was on the bus and I saw a kid getting bullied. It inspired me to stand up and do something. I got involved. We went and talked to his parents and the school counselor'," Hirsch recalled last week. "He wrote this to us. And he said 'I wouldn't have done this if I hadn't seen that movie'."
NewsChannel 5 has reached out to Max. He is in the process of deciding whether he wants to be interviewed about his experience.
Either way, director Lee Hirsch says Max's actions had a profound impact on him. Bully has now been shown to more than 250,000 students across the country.
"That single note (from Max) has been the inspiration for our entire outreach campaign for the film," Hirsch said.