CARVER (CBS) - A local filmmaker and a young actress are teaming up to help teach kids to stand up to bullying. The message comes from a short film they made together called "Snowflake."
The movie stars Ava Fratus of Carver as Jessi, a 9-year-old girl determined to become a rap star. But her classmates, and even her on-screen dad, have little faith in her talents.
The 18-minute film about a girl refusing to give up on a dream won awards at multiple small film festivals. But the biggest surprise for filmmaker Kristen Lucas was the anti-bullying message people took away from the story.
"I'm not a bullying expert and never want to be positioned that way," she told WBZ-TV. "I'm a filmmaker turned activist because the movie has touched people in a way. They are seeing it as tool and a way to start the conversation."
That's why administrators in Tyngsboro decided to show the movie to eighth graders last month, with Ava and Kristen introducing the film.
"I want them to try to see how the victim of bullying feels and I think that's a powerful message," said Police Sgt. Steve Manning, the school resource officer.
That message hits close to home for Ava who is now in middle school.
"I was bullied," Fratus told WBZ. "I actually had to switch schools because I was getting bullied so bad about a family situation."
"Ava's got a great story. I think it's important to hear from Ava and how she dealt with that problem," Manning said.
The movie has an uplifting ending with Ava walking triumphantly through the halls of school after reciting her rap lyrics during a school project.
"After watching 'Snowflake' I really hope kids take away a message of just being nicer to each other," Ava said. "And really just supporting each other and not being so mean."
The movie is called "Snowflake" because no two are alike. According to Lucas, it underscores the importance of being an individual and staying true to who you are.
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