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First Look At Trailer For Oscar-Nominated ‘When We Were Bullies’ – Director Jay Rosenblatt’s Plunge Into Troubling Boyhood Incident

When We Were Bullies poster

EXCLUSIVE: This is your first look at the trailer for the Oscar-nominated short documentary When We Were Bullies, directed by Jay Rosenblatt. The film, which HBO acquired earlier this month, centers around a bullying episode the filmmaker became involved in as a boy more than 50 years ago. The memory of it has troubled – perhaps even haunted – him ever since.

“The bullying incident happened that Friday in 5th grade,” Rosenblatt says in voiceover in the film. He goes on to recount how he and other kids in Mrs. Bromberg’s 5th grade class ganged up on another kid one day, a boy who was considered an outcast and generally shunned.

Rosenblatt didn’t lead the bullying charge, but he did get in a jab on the victimized boy. “The more I delve into it,” the filmmaker says, “the more upset I am that I was involved.”

Through a series of extraordinary coincidences, Rosenblatt crossed paths much later in life with one of his classmates from P.S. 194 in New York City. That 5th grade classmate, Richard, had been centrally involved in the bullying, and he too remembered what had happened and was troubled by it. The trailer begins with Richard and Jay scaling a fence at P.S. 194 as they attempt to retrace what happened that day in the 1960s.

“Not as easy as we remember,” Richard says as he struggles to go over the metal fence.

As revealed in the film, Rosenblatt went on a mission to speak with every one of his surviving 5th grade classmates to find out what they recalled about the incident – if they recalled it at all. The film is covered in large part by cutouts from a school photo of Mrs. Bromberg’s class, with only the bullying victim’s face obscured.

“It became so clear to me that I shouldn’t really show him. I should protect his privacy,” Rosenblatt explained at a recent Q&A at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. “I also realized that if I don’t really identify him, if he’s just in a way anonymous, it’ll be more universal.”

When We Were Bullies will premiere on HBO on March 30, just a few days after the Oscars. It will also be available for streaming on HBO Max. This is the first Oscar nomination in a long and distinguished career in documentary for Rosenblatt.

“It feels great,” Rosenblatt said of the nomination. “I’ve been doing this for a really long time, and I’ve made over 30 short films… The nomination is such an honor that we’ll see what happens, but it’s a great feeling. Just the main thing is just to be recognized by my peers in the [Academy’s] Doc Branch. That feels wonderful.”

Watch the trailer above.




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