Advocacy group White Ribbon released today “Boys Don’t Cry,” a public service announcement by Oscar-nominated director Hubert Davis that offers a heart-wrenching look at the root of toxic masculinity, the role it plays in gender-based violence and how easily it might be prevented.
The three-minute film ponders what boys are and are not allowed to feel. It follows the life of a boy from infancy to young adulthood, showing how various inputs throughout his life, including episodes of bullying, tragically lead him towards committing gender-based violence.
National research has found that one in five students is affected by bullying and half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. White Ribbon wants to spark a conversation about the importance of healthy self-esteem, compassion, and emotional intelligence in boys. The video calls on viewers to visit www.boysdontcry.ca to learn more about how to promote healthy masculinities, prevent bullying and contribute to a future without gender-based violence.
Davis, who has been nominated for an Academy Award and Emmy Award for his work as a documentary filmmaker, directed the PSA pro bono via Toronto-based Untitled Films.
“It was important for me to make this film because I believe strongly that men have a responsibility to educate themselves in order to be part of positive change,” Davis said.
“As a society we still live with negative, outdated concepts of manhood, with very toxic results,” Davis said. “If we want to prevent gender-based violence, we need to address what’s at the roots of it.”
White Ribbon is the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity. Since its inception in Toronto in 1991, the White Ribbon Campaign has spread to over 60 countries around the world. “Boys Don’t Cry” builds on White Ribbon’s ongoing work to promote healthy masculinities and recent participation in the 16 Days of Activism, an international campaign to end violence against women and girls around the world.
“To have someone as esteemed as Hubert Davis direct this PSA really underscores the importance of building a vision of masculinity worldwide that embodies the best qualities of being human,” said Humberto Carolo, White Ribbon’s Executive Director and a gender-based violence prevention specialist.
“We hope the video will help continue a cultural shift that helps brings us to a future without violence against women and girls and people of all genders and sexual orientations,” Carolo added.
Title: Boys Don’t Cry
Client: White Ribbon
Agency: Bensimon Byrne/Narrative
ECD: Joseph Bonnici
ACD/writer: David Mueller
ACD/art director: Debbie Chan
Writer : Matt Doran
Project manager: Sara Leroux
Strategist: Brittany Dow
Agency Producer: Michelle Pilling
Associate Account Manager: Vanessa Kissoon
Account Manager: Jackie Kleinberg
Account Manager: Tony Koutoulas
Account Director: Andrea Lee
Account Coordinator: Madeleine Porter
Production Company: Untitled Films
Executive Producer: Tom Evelyn
Director: Hubert Davis
Line Producer:Tom Evelyn
Post Production Offline: Rooster Post Production
Executive Producer: Mellissa Khan
Editor: Michelle Czuker
Post Production Online: Alter Ego
Producer: Hilda Pereira
Editor: Darren Achim
Transfer: Alter Ego
Colourist: Clinton Homuth
Audio House: Berkeley
Producer: Tyna Maerzke
Director: Jared Kuemper
Engineer: Jared Kuemper
Casting: Shasta Lutz, Jigsaw Casting
Q&A on “Boys Don’t Cry” with Joseph Bonnici, ECD/Partner Bensimon Byrne
Tell me why you chose to make this film for White Ribbon?
White Ribbon is an amazing organization. The fact they were founded in 1991, well before toxic masculinity was a prominent issue in the media, gives them so much credibility. They have spread to 60 different countries since starting in Toronto.
We were also motivated by the startling statistics about gender-based violence. National research has found that one-in-five students is affected by bullying, and half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. After we heard them talk about what they hoped to accomplish, we felt a very strong responsibility to help educate as many people as possible about the root causes of gender-based violence.
What are you hoping people will take away from it?
We would like for us all to begin making a connection between the way we raise young men and the potential consequences. It’s about sparking a conversation about the importance of healthy self-esteem, compassion, and emotional intelligence in boys. The current definition of masculinity is so rigid. We looked at a series of studies when we were researching gender roles and found charts that expressed the range of emotions men can feel in colour. As an infant, a boy is able and allowed to express such a wide spectrum of colour. But as he develops into adolescence, the number of emotions dwindles to just a few. When we saw masculinity through that lens, it really impacted the direction of the creative.
Why did you choose Untitled Film director Hubert Davis to bring this film to life?
We knew once we had the script that we needed bring it to life as authentically as possible. Hubert Davis is an Oscar-nominated director. He has two sons himself, and cares as deeply about this cause as White Ribbon and the agency. His filmmaking is so nuanced. It’s not easy to