Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go
Sunday November 16, 2008 at 10 pm ET/PT on CBC News Network
Acclaimed documentary film-maker Kim Longinotto (Sisters in Law, The Day I Will Never Forget) brings us an incredible film about a unique last-chance boarding school that uses hug therapy to modify the behavior of troubled children. The Mulberry Bush in Oxfordshire looks after and teaches children who have been expelled from regular schools for extreme behaviour. The three-year programme gives them the chance to turn their lives around and re-enter the regular school system.
Longinotto spends a year at the school following the progress of four charming but troubled boys. All have severe problems with anger and violence; they punch, kick, spit and curse at the remarkably patient teachers who are trained never to raise their voices and who encourage the students to express their emotions. The film compassionately captures the battle these children go through to give voice to the hurt they carry inside. It is a sensitive and heart-wrenching study of the results of family dysfunction and also stands witness to the effects-bad and good-adults have on growing children.
Mulberry Bush is not an average school. It costs 113,000 British pounds a year and is highly selective. But you don't get there by being super rich. Each child is carefully chosen and paid for by local education authorities hard strapped even to buy enough books for their normal classrooms. They pay for these children for one reason only: they have no idea what else to do with them.
This film explores the remarkable relationships which are formed between the staff and children. We are drawn into the arduous and emotionally charged process of trying to break the kids' violent and self-destructive patterns of behaviour.