Rock Sugar was released digitally in the US in June under the title Bullied. Written and directed by Angela How, the 80-minute film follows 12-year-old Charlotte, who commits the unthinkable when she stands up to Brenda the bully. Despite Charlotte’s best efforts to defend herself, she continues to be tormented by Brenda, until one late night in a park when Charlotte fights back hard and knocks Brenda to the ground. Brenda hits her head and stops moving, and Charlotte throws herself into crisis mode.
Rock Sugar is a drama/psychological thriller about children and a cautionary tale to the bully. This piece of work advocates anti-bullying and the empowerment of young girls. Three up-and-coming Mornington Peninsula actors appear in the film: Lulu Fitz, who plays Brenda, and Olivia Sprague and Mackenzie McLaren in support roles. Rock Sugar also features a mainly female cast – including predominantly Asian Australians in the main roles, which is rare in Australia films. Angela says it was important for her to make an entertaining film with a diverse cast. While it was made on a shoestring budget with largely unknown actors, the addition of new Australian talent has added a sense of freshness and brilliance to the film. Its aesthetic is also budget-specific; however, it offers a realistic and raw setting through its art direction.
“We have all been touched by bullying, either as a perpetrator, victim or witness,” Angela says. “I was bullied as a child, so I know how the experience cuts deep and is felt into adulthood. It is a problem that thrives and perpetuates itself at all levels of our social fabric. It is also not going away any time soon. According to the National Centre Against Bullying, one in four students are bullied in schools across Australia. Those odds are way too high. It is my hope that Rock Sugar will help bring the problem of childhood bullying to the forefront and help with combating the issue.”
Angela is an alumna of the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television (MFA Directing) and has had her films screened at the Stockholm International Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Short Shorts Asia and at the United Nations. She grew up both in Singapore and Australia and has worked and lived in many places, including Los Angeles, where she spent many years acquiring valuable experience working on a variety of film productions and in post-production. Rock Sugar is her debut film, with twists and turns to keep audiences of all ages on the edge of their seats, while also resonating with children and adults. The film investigates and portrays the gravity of bullying in a provocative way and will ignite key conversations and discourse about the issue of bullying. Considering the level of bullying across the world – especially with the growth of social media in recent years – Rock Sugar is timely.
“I look forward to sharing Rock Sugar with audiences everywhere, to giving voice to the bullied and to contributing to ending childhood bullying.”