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Bullies – Short Film Review

By: Patrick Donovan

“…Instead of facing one’s fears head-on, a young boy runs away to a ‘safe place’ under his school but then realizes, was it the best choice he made…”  — Patrick Donovan



A 10-year-old boy is relentlessly bullied until he discovers a secret beneath his school that promises to keep him safe – if he’s willing to play by the rules.



Brazilian filmmaker forefronts the issue of bullying with a poignant comedy in the Oscar-qualifying Cleveland International Film Festival

The film stars Kaden Hetherington (Bones), Fred Ornstein (Everybody Loves Raymond), Weston Nathanson (New Girl), Stephen Holland (American Horror Story) and Conrad Bluth (Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything)


About the Director:


Daniel Bydlowski’s award-winning film ‘Bullies’ shares the story of a young boy who is bullied at school and was inspired by the director’s own experience. While there are many movies about bullying, Daniel took a different approach with the aim to communicate directly with those that suffer or have suffered from bullying and show them that they are not alone. The 1980s entertainment style helped him cope with the problem and Bullies was created as an entertaining space to explore fears.

This poignant film has been selected by numerous high-profile film festivals taking home awards at Newport Beach, Comic-Con and being selected by Oscar-qualifying film festivals.


The Review:

In watching this wonderful film, I was harkened back to a time when I was a kid in elementary school and how I was bullied. That continued into Jr. High School and then when I was transferred to Catholic School in the 10 – 12 grades. It finally stopped when someone finally witnessed, then BELIEVED what was happening to me.

Watching this film as a boy runs from his bully, scared, threatened and abused. I could see why, when he ran into a closet to be “safe” and found what he did below his school. He realized that he would never be bullied again. Like the film I reviewed, The Price of Silence, this boy’s fear of being bullied prevented him from wanting to speak to his mother about what was happening to him. The price he paid for being “silent.” It’s funny how two different films can have the same message, hmm?

Bullies love to do what they do because they feel empowered but when they are confronted and you do what they don’t expect, then you have the advantage. This young boy found a ‘safe haven’ under his school and so he had to make a choice: Stay there and risk losing everything that would be or stay safe and “never be!” I don’t believe that the safe haven was something he really wanted but rather, simply a place for him to reflect. This is something WE MUST do in our lives when things are looking bad and I’m not just speaking about being bullied.

For me, the bullying was so bad, in the 6th grade that I “stole” money to stop my bullies from bothering me. It didn’t work. Finally, however, staying silent no more, told my parents and they took me to the principal where I cried out for help. Ten students were brought to the office and into the conference room with the principal. I sat outside with my late father for what seems like an eternity. Then the door opened and as the 10 students left, each one quietly said, “I’m sorry…” Some, with their heads hung low, others with tears in their eyes. They were each “EXPELLED” from school and had to give back the money and antique coins that I stole to give to them to LEAVE ME ALONE!

This doesn’t have to happen to you! DO NOT STAY SILENT! You can be bullied as a kid and adult! Stand up for yourself and do not allow others to have power over you. John Oliver, the host of Last Week Tonight (seen on HBO and HBOGO), had a segment about public shaming or, cyberbullying, a couple weeks ago.

It’s bad and getting worse! When does it end? When the person being bullied commits suicide or worse?   If you know someone who’s being bullied, whether it be man, woman or child, get them to talk and come out of the “safe haven” because if you decide that your place beneath the ground is a far, far better place for you to be, then perhaps, you will truly never be heard, and you will be; forgotten. The bullies WIN!