On March 25, which District Mayor Vincent Gray proclaimed Don’t Bully Day, Community of Hope A.M.E. Church hosted the premiere of Dream Work’s new 40-minute short film Strings Dream. Sponsored by The United Way, the film was co-written by Anwan “Big G” Glover and Daniel Bradley of “The Wire” fame and is intended to bring clarity and awareness to the high-priority issue of bullying. The film, unlike many others before it, is shot through a two-fold perspective, the bullied and the bully. The film features appearances from recording artists Raheem DeVaughn and Bryon Cage, radio personalities Russ Parr, Deja Perez, Angie Ange, and comedian Billy the Kid.
Strings Dream, which is set in the D.C. metropolitan area, premiered a few weeks after President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama released a video on Facebook discussing bullying prevention. The film features a young boy named Strings, played by Elijah Torres, whose dream is to become a classical musician. Strings has no safe haven from his antagonists, which includes his sister Kendra, played by Rian Hayes, and older boys at his school. Strings’ main ally, his best friend Derek played by LeQuonte Rhones, is both Strings’ protector and a bully himself.
Glover, who came up with the idea for Strings Dream, explained he grew up in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C., where getting bullied was a norm. He believes some form of bullying takes place every household, whether a child is being bullied or is the bully.
“Even if you are not bullying someone, if you see it, you are just as guilty by doing nothing to stop it. It’s not snitching to make someone aware of the situation,” said Glover.
Caree Keith, who adapted the story line into the screenplay, understands the seriousness of bullying, as one of his close friends committed suicide after being bullied. He goes on to explain the Black community has many problems which it does not address.
“The community does not really pay attention to bullying; we take it as a part of life,” Keith said.
Keith said Strings Dream shows viewers multiple aspects of bullying by giving children an in-depth look at how harsh teasing can make others feel.
The United Way of the National Capital Area became involved with Strings Dream because it hits on one of their two initiatives, gang prevention. Leslie W. Graves of United Way explained many children join gangs to give them protection from bullying and harassment at school or on their way home from school.
“The goal is not to step on any toes, but address the underlying issues to help the kids,” added Graves.
Technology is beginning to play a huge role in how children interact with one another and it has become a new medium for children to bully one another, Graves added. The United Way also plans to address the parents by embarking on initiatives to attack their role in bullying prevention.
Glover believes the film brings awareness about the seriousness of bullying to students, teachers, parents, and the general community. Dream Work is set to show the film in schools all over the D.C. metropolitan area to initiate dialogue about bullying with students and their parents.