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Review

'A Brave Heart' reveals Lizzie Velasquez in all her eloquence, energy

Like its protagonist, the documentary "A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story" is small and sweet — and much stronger than you might expect.

The film, directed by Sara Hirsh Bordo, tells the story of anti-bullying activist Lizzie Velasquez. She was born with a rare syndrome, undiagnosed for 25 years, that prevented her from putting on weight, among other medical problems. With her appearance different from other kids, she shied away from playing at recess and was bullied at school.

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After discovering a Youtube video featuring images of her and the title "The World's Ugliest Woman," and after reading the accompanying hateful comments, Velasquez was crushed. But instead of hiding or lashing out in hate, she confronted it and decided that forgiveness and living her best life would be her way of proving the haters wrong.

She created a Youtube channel where she spreads her message of loving yourself. That has led to a viral TED talk, speaking gigs all over the world and a chance to lobby on Capitol Hill for an anti-bullying bill.

Her activism focuses on schools, but there's an unexplored opportunity to discuss the ways in which social media platforms enable bullying and harassment, particularly of women. With simple storytelling, the film allows its star, Velasquez, to shine, and with her endless reserves of positive energy, eloquent speaking and willingness to be vulnerable, it's no wonder millions of people have already found her inspirational.

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"A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story."

MPAA rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, brief strong language.

Running time: 1 hour, 18 minutes.

Playing: Arclight Hollywood

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