Combustible Celluloid
With: Mark Athitakis, Ruth Bromberg, Wendy Newman, Jay Rosenblatt, Richard J. Silberg
Written by: Jay Rosenblatt
Directed by: Jay Rosenblatt
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 36
Date: 02/25/2022

When We Were Bullies (2022)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Guilt Trip

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The great San Francisco-based filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt, who is often labeled as a director of "experimental shorts" has made many mini-masterpieces, largely from found footage. He has finally landed his first Oscar nomination (for Best Documentary Short) for this astonishing essay film that incorporates animation in addition to found footage. The 36-minute When We Were Bullies begins during the making of Rosenblatt's The Smell of Burning Ants (1994), on which he met Richard Silberg, who narrated it. The men realized they went to school together, and both remembered an incident in which a kid was bullied, and they both participated, along with many other kids from the same class. Rosenblatt tracks down his old teacher and as many of the kids as he can, and tries to piece together the story. In the process, he uncovers a deeply complex psychological portrait of guilt, violence, and mob mentality that feels both achingly personal and daringly relevant.

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