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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Strongly advocates taking bullying and its consequences seriously. Provides significant evidence of the dangers of a school's refusal and/or inability to deal with important issues of safety and the well-being of their students. Promotes having substantial, workable anti-bullying programs in place in school communities.
Positive Role Models
Introduces teens and bullying experts who provide testimony about the events that took place; those interviewees are portrayed as reliable, thoughtful, and proactive. Recounts a history of caring, involved parents who intervened on their child's behalf; their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. The parents in a second family appear as devoted, brave, and engaged in their child's life. All members of the Mentor, Ohio, school system declined to be interviewed. Evidence presented in this film vilifies the Mentor High School staff and other school agencies.
Violence & Scariness
No on-camera violence, though the subject matter is teen suicide as a result of bullying. Dialogue that recalls in detail the discovery of the two central suicide victims is graphic and heartbreaking.
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Name-calling by bullies is reiterated: "fag," "queer," "vagina," "lesbian." "Hell" is said twice.
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Products & Purchases
Many Mentor, Ohio, community businesses are shown in the background and in shots of the city.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mentor is a cautionary tale, a documentary about two teens from Mentor High School in Mentor, Ohio, who were victims of severe bullying and ultimately killed themselves in 2007 and 2008. The film is an in-depth uncovering of the events leading to the deaths of 16-year-old Sladjana Vidovic and 17-year-old Eric Mohat and the aftermath of each. Interviews with family, friends, a reporter, a psychologist, and a lawyer are both heartbreaking and discouraging as the viewer is soon informed of the many efforts parents made to get help and how their pleas to the school went unanswered. With no rebuttal from Mentor school district personnel (all declined to be interview), it's a damning indictment of their policies and actions. Candid discussions and graphic recollections of the events as they unfolded make this a movie best suited for mature kids only. Members of the Vidovic family are refugees from war-torn Croatia, and most of their dialogue is subtitled in English. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Alix Lambert does an effective job of showing what happened at Mentor High, who the bullying victims were and are, and how many lives were touched by the tragedies there. For the Mohat and Vicovic families, not only were there no happy endings, but their efforts to bring the tragedy into the light and to hope for better for other kids were stifled in every way. From the bullying girls who came to Sladjana's wake, laughed at the dress she was wearing in her coffin, and posted about its "ugliness" on MySpace; to the school counselor who shredded all her documents related to one student immediately after the death; to the lawyer who fought unsuccessfully to give the two families their day in court, in spite of stunning evidence; and, finally, to the refusal of any school official to be interviewed or even respond, it's all tragic. It's unimaginable that anyone could stay with Mentor through the closing credits without feeling overwhelmingly saddened and frustrated by what he or she has seen. Though Lambert does succeed in finally giving these families their day in the court of public opinion, it's relentlessly bleak. It tells the tale well but offers no positive perspective about how things can be made better; no family members get any relief from what they've suffered, and we don't know if there were any consequences paid or changes made in the school district's methodology.
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