Directed by: #KabirMcneely
Written by: #KabirMcneely
We may be one year into the pandemic, but conversing over Zoom, Teams or whatever video conferencing app you prefer is no less awkward than it was last March. And seeing as how bullying went cyber long ago, teachers and students across the world will be well aware that social distancing does not mean social harmony. Blue Girl is an inventive short showing the impact bullying can have in the home-school era.
On a Zoom call organisation by her teacher, Katie (Bella Murphy) is ready to come out as Lesbian to her classmates. Nervously, she prepares to reveal her news – but is constantly interrupted by classmates joining the call, her disappointed friend (Kabir McNeely) who cannot handle her revelation, and a homophobic bully (Adele Rudnick) intent on ruining her moment. As her teacher offers little support, Katie feels more alone than ever.
A short film created using video-conferencing, Blue Girl is an impressive production which exceeds it’s imposed limitations. Director Kabir McNeely uses the technology at her disposal well to take a situation familiar to millions of people and portray it in an original format. Katie’s decision to open up about her sexuality is made frustratingly more difficult by the technology she has no choice but to use as her classmates naively throw her off her stride by joining the call, causing her confidence to withdraw. We see Katie’s fears cascade as quickly as the edits between the cameras – an impactful choice that also adds humour to the film as more and more girls are introduced.
Similarly, McNeely’s choice to place the audience in the room with Katie, as opposed to showing her on a video-link as with the other classmates, brings the viewer into Katie’s world and gives us an intimacy with her that brings her dilemma closer to home. Katie’s anxiety becomes the audiences as screen after screen pops up, each with their own opinions and takes on her news. The contrast between Katie and her bully is drawn brilliantly as the film moves towards its conclusion, as the disturbing, first-person abuse she suffers becomes very personalised.
As a low-budget, homemade production, Blue Girl understandably lacks some of the polish of a major release. The scripting could use some sharpening, with audiences left wondering just how a teacher could be so inept as to let a student she supposedly cares about be on the receiving end of a bigoted tirade. The acting also suffers from the format, which is again understandable seeing as how even fully professional actors struggle to immerse themselves in a character with nothing but a laptop for feedback. None of these issues really undermine the film’s message of tolerance and ending bullying however, which is really the goal of the entire piece.
Blue Girl delivers a short, entertaining and heart-breaking message in an original and creative format, that outperforms intrinsic challenges it is posed with. Even when school is not in the classroom, bullying and hate do not go away. The effective message of this film shows that there are ways to challenge it.