Mentor

DIRECTOR: Alix Lambert

A town with an ironic name promotes the American dream but cannot escape its shadow—school bullying of children perceived as different. Mentor, Ohio, is largely white, largely upper middle class, and listed as one of the “Top 100 Places to Live in the United States.” Its attraction for immigrants and others proves to be a deadly illusion. The Vidovics swap the perils of war in Bosnia for trying to fit in to this culture of conformity. Their daughter Sladjana endures constant bullying from 8th grade on. Kids make fun of her name, her Croatian accent, her clothes, and her perceived queerness. She suffers nightly death threats and daily physical abuse. The Vidovics seek help from the school—principals, counselors, nurses, security guards, and the police all systematically fail to stop the bullying or create a safer environment. No abuser is held accountable. Sladjana hangs herself at 16. Another victim of this bullying, Eric Mohat does not tell his parents of his daily physical abuse, being called “fag” and “queer” at school. Eric is finally taunted into killing himself at 17.

The Vidovics and Mohats both sue the school district, which pursues a policy of denial, destroys evidence, and willfully refuses to address bullying at all. At its heart, the documentary poses a harrowing question: What tragedies will some endure to maintain the status quo, and what risks must we take to reclaim the future of a community in conflict?

— Carol Harada

This film contains graphic depictions of homophobic violence.

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: D318

Co-presented by:
San Francisco Suicide Prevention

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