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“The Hunting Ground” explores the US college culture of sexual violence and institutional cover ups as a group of college women uncover the truth and fight for justice.
In the wake of the recent Brock Turner sexual assault case, in which Turner sexually assaulted an unconscious college student on campus and received a sentence of only 6 months imprisonment, the prevalence of sexual assault in college cultures across America has once again come to the world’s attention. Against this backdrop, “The Hunting Ground” is especially topical.
Director Kirby Dick takes us straight to the heart of a college culture of rationalisations and victim blaming, cover ups and injustices at an institutional level. Combining expert witnesses and first-person testimonies,”The Hunting Ground” follows the survivors of sexual assault as they pursue justice in the face of widespread harassment and abuse to both themselves and their families. They go up against their elite universities, which have for years provided fertile hunting ground for sexual predators to prey on college women with impunity.
Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, survivors of these assaults, refuse to remain silent. They are forced to defend their own worth and the validity of their testimony in court -“What were you wearing? Were you drinking? How much did you pregame? Did you say no? How many times did you say no?” – yet they employ an ingenious legal strategy to fight back and share their knowledge. Together they work to pave the way forward, and expose the inadequacy of the justice system in legal proceedings and the extent of ‘victim blaming’ and stereotyping their cases bring forward.
“The Hunting Ground” is a courageous exposé of rape culture on campus. It has been screened at campuses across the US, and served as a catalyst for a suite of new laws in campus policies in New York and California. It debuted to rave reviews and a standing ovation at Sundance in January – the New York Times called it a “must-watch work of cine-activism.“ It has since been screened at the White House, and submitted for consideration for a feature documentary Academy Award.
Written by Tara Janus