Beverly Peterson’s Documentary Featured in Psychology Today

Psychology Today praises Peterson' complex and revelatory storytelling.

"In her award-winning documentary, What Killed Kevin? filmmaker Beverly Peterson set out to tell a story—and ended up asking how the story got told in the first place."

So begins Janice Harper's October 10 blog about Assistant Professor Beverly Peterson's film on the website Psychology Today.

The documentary investigates the death of Kevin Morrissey, managing editor at the Virginia Quarterly Review, who walked to an abandoned coal tower, then dialed 911 to report a shooting before turning his gun on himself.

Harper is interested in Peterson’s investigative look into social conflicts. She writes, "Peterson, a former target of workplace bullying herself who has a popular blog, Our Bully Pulpit, was drawn to the story of how a man could be driven to suicide by the abusive behavior of his boss. But in short order, she found a far more complex story, one that reveals the many layers of human aggression, workplace gossip, and the inexplicable but multi-faceted factors that contribute to any suicide. Perhaps even more revelatory was the manner in which the story became spun as caused by a 'bully boss' in the first place."

Peterson’s film originally presents “workplace bullying” as an interactive feature that allows the viewer to explore the puzzling pieces of the story one clip at a time. With alternative views of the story playing side by side, the viewer is encouraged to reach his or her own conclusions. In addition to video interviews, the documentary also allows audiences to read memos, emails and news reports as they are referenced.

Peterson was awarded Best TransMedia Website at the 2013 UFVA “Story First Conference,” and has been praised by The Washington Post for showing how complicated human relationships can be when explored in depth.

As Harper concludes in Psychology Today: "[W]hat Peterson’s film illuminates is that the good guy/bad guy approach to understanding social conflict, however inviting it might be, is fundamentally flawed."

In addition to What Killed Kevin?, Beverly Peterson's documentaries have been broadcast internationally, and screened at major festivals including; HBO, PBS The Sundance Channel, The Sundance Film Festival, Human Rights Watch, Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Walker Art Center, The Warhol Museum, The Kitchen. Peterson’s “71 West Broadway: Ground Zero, New York, NY” was selected as part of the memorial presentation at the Library of Congress, which has included it in the national 9/11 film archive. In addition to filmmaking, Peterson also has a blog, Our Bully Pit, which combats the devastating impact of workplace bullying.