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2012 March 12

Fight Club

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Anderson Cooper, Kelly Ripa & director Lee Hirsch Anderson Cooper, Kelly Ripa & director Lee Hirsch
Patrick McMullan
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(NEW YORK) Last night at the Crosby Hotel, The Weinstein Company, Cinema Society & Bing, along with Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripahosted a screening of the powerful documentary Bully directed by Lee Hirsch. The haunting (and heartbreaking) film follows five kids and families suffering from the effects of the bullying epidemic over the course of a school year in suburban America. The stories include two families who have lost children to suicide and a mother awaiting the fate of her 14-year-old daughter who has been incarcerated after bringing a gun onto her school bus. 

The film came to Ripa's attention after hearing about it at a Rutgers University Town Hall meeting, which her pal Cooper put together after the suicide of student Tyler Clementi. "I'm a parent of children the same age as the ones featured in the film," Ripa told The Daily. "With more and more access to computers and social media, children have found new and interesting ways to be cruel to each other. I find it unacceptable. Schools and parents still behave the same way they did when people were prank calling each other on the phone, but the technology has gotten so creative that everybody needs to wake up and snap out of it. This is not the seventies anymore." Ripa finds it particularly upsetting that the issue is often ignored by police officials and school administrators: "Parents who complain that their children are being bullied are often written off as hysterical parents and not listened to. The days of that stuff has ended. It's time for people to pay attention."  

Guests who were riveted by the film included David LaChapelle, Prabal Gurung, Mark Consuelos, Paul Haggis, Andew Bevan, Courtney Love, Michelle Trachtenberg, S. Epatha Merkerson, Ethan Suplee, Heather Matarazzo, Andre Leon Talley, Rachel Roy and daughter Ava, Kristian Laliberte, Rob McGarry, Reichen Lehmkuhl, Alex Lundqvist, Carson Kressley, Terence Noonan, and Celine Rattray. 

"This is something we at CNN have unfortunately been reporting on for many years now," Cooper explained. "It's rare to capture bullying on camera. It's one thing to theoretically talk about it in the news, but what's so remarkable about this film is that it's documented in a way that I don't think anyone has seen before, except for the people who experience it directly. Bullying today is not like it was when I was a kid. It used to only happen in schools, but that's no longer the case. Because of social media and mobile devices, kids are bullied around the clock."

Bully is in the midst of its own battle with activists fighting the MPAA's R rating of the movie to a more teen-friendly PG-13 while red carpet regulars like Ellen DeGeneres and Demi Lovato are speaking out in support of the film, which hits theatres on March 30th. Don't miss it.
EDDIE ROCHE 




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