Sensei in the AP

Colo. District Nixes School Bullying Film
Sun Jun 5, 3:23 AM ET

LAKEWOOD, Colo. - Officials in the school district that includes Columbine High School have nixed the idea of filming a movie at another school in the county because it deals in part with bullying. Jefferson County school officials said they were concerned that filming "The Sensei" at Alameda High School would reopen the wounds of Columbine, where 12 students and one teacher were fatally shot by two students in 1999. The teen gunmen, who also shot and killed themselves, had complained that they were bullied.

"Our understanding is the scenes that were going to be filmed in the school were violent scenes," Superintendent Cindy Stevenson said Friday. "We are still a healing community."

The movie by writer-director Diana Lee Inosanto is about a gay teenager who learns martial arts after being bullied by high school athletes in the early 1980s, at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic.

Stevenson said the board's denial last month had nothing to do with the film's treatment of controversial subjects such as homosexuality and AIDS.

"Nationwide, what I see consistently is, whenever there is any issue with school violence, it gets connected to the Columbine community. In thinking of the good of the entire community who are very tired of being connected to school violence, it would just be better if it were filmed in a different location," she said.

Inosanto wrote in a letter to the school board that its concerns were unwarranted.

"My film bears no resemblance whatsoever to what happened in that tragedy. There are no guns, no cults, and no extreme violence. 'The Sensei' is a movie about respect, tolerance and personal growth," she wrote.

Inosanto said she wanted to use Alameda for her film because the building fits the 1980s timeline and the school has a diverse student population.

Alameda Principal Dale McCoy had wanted the movie filmed at the school, saying it would give students opportunities to be extras and learn about film production.

"This proposal presents a safe, wholesome learning experience for AHS and the community it serves," he wrote in a letter to the board