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Three Films to Help Fight Bullying in your School

Movies are excellent vehicles to explore, in a safe and impersonal way, the causes, consequences and impact of bullying, and ways to challenge and combat it

  • Three Films to Help Fight Bullying in your School

Bullying takes many forms, from violence, name calling and exclusion to cyber bullying and discrimination relating to race and sexual identity.

Surveys show that half of young people experience bullying, yet this is a sensitive and complex subject which many students are reluctant to discuss.

Film is an excellent vehicle to explore, in a safe and impersonal way, the causes, consequences and impact of bullying, and ways to challenge and combat it.

Into Film has an extensive choice of classic and popular films linked to bullying on its website, ranging from Rebel Without a Cause (PG), Ghostbusters (12), Mean Girls (12), The Duff (12), Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (12), Just Jim (15), and Whiplash (15), to titles with a racial or LGBT focus like Hidden Figures (PG), The Imitation Game (12), Handsome Devil (15), Pride (15), GBF (Gay Best Friend) (15) and Moonlight (15).

In support of Anti-Bullying Week and its 2017 theme All Different/All Equal, Into Film also collaborated with the Anti-Bullying Alliance to create a new ‘Anti-Bullying on Film’ resource, complete with embedded film clips, questions and activities to promote discussion and encourage empathy.

Anti-Bullying was also a key theme of last year’s Into Film Festival, which featured free screenings of films such as My Life as a Courgette (PG), A Monster Calls (12A), The Edge of Seventeen (15),the short film Trigga, new release Battle of the Sexes (12A), and many other thought-provoking titles.

Handsome Devil (2017, 15)

Handsome Devil: © Treasure Entertainment

At his Irish boarding school, Ned is something of an outsider, more interested in music than the exploits of the rugby team, whose fortunes dominate the agenda.

Things get worse when Ned is assigned a new roommate, Conor, who quickly establishes himself as the rugby team’s star man.

Gradually the pair bond with one another and truths are unearthed that they, and those around them, had tried to keep hidden.

This is a crowd-pleasing and charming coming-out story, containing engaging messages for all young people around honesty and self-expression.

Discussion questions

  1. Why is Ned treated like an outsider at school? How is the term “gay” used by other pupils, beyond referring to sexual identity?
  2. What was the significance of rugby to the school? How did Ned’s attitude towards the team affect his initial relationship with Conor? Why did he change his mind?
  3. Why was Mr Sherry so angry when he caught Ned plagiarising song lyrics in his essays? What did he mean by his statement “If you spend your whole life being somebody else, who’s going to be you?”?

My Life As A Courgette (2016, PG, 66 mins)

My Life as a Courgette: © Rita Productions

A charming French animation about a 9-year-old boy called Courgette who is sent to live in a children’s home following the death of his mother.

Following his attempts to fit in with the other children – each of whom carry scars of their own difficult pasts – the film is a gentle exploration of the thoughts and feelings a young person might have when going through a difficult period.

Full of humour, the challenging issues and behaviours of each child are dealt with sensitively and without patronising young audiences.

Discussion questions

  1. Why do you think the story was told using stop-motion animation? What effect does this have on the audience’s relationship to the characters and their stories?
  2. How does the film encourage us to learn to look at things from other people’s perspective? Why was Courgette initially bullied by Simon when he arrived at the home and what caused this to change?
  3. What role did Raymond, the police officer, play in Courgette’s life? How are adults represented in the film more generally?

X-Men: First Class (2011, 12, 126 mins)

X Men: First Class: © 20th Century Fox

The year is 1963, we’re in the middle of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union, and mutants are considered as potential weapons of great value.

Meanwhile, Xavier and his friend Erik Lehnsherr (aka Magneto) start their long argument about the relationship between the mutants and other humans.

There are plenty of spectacular action scenes, too, in this instalment of the hugely popular series that has won plaudits for its portrayal of themes of prejudice and being an outsider.

Discussion questions

  1. Why did the members of the X-Men believe they needed code names, rather than using their real names? Why wasn’t Hank the scientist given a name?
  2. Why were Hank and Raven looking to find “cures” for their physical appearance? In what way was this influenced by how others were treating them?
  3. The X-Men films have been praised for telling stories that deal with issues of intolerance and inequality. Do you agree? Why?

For information about Into Film or to set up a free film club for access to thousands of films and resources visit intofilm.org.

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