You don’t want to miss upcoming opportunities to see this searing film about sexual assault and how cases are handled on college campuses, so keep reading!
Writer/director Kirby Dick has received the most press for his two recent documentaries, The Invisible War (2012) and The Hunting Ground (2015), but he’s been on my radar since around the time This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006) was released.
Dick attended The University Film and Video Association Conference with Michael Donaldson,* the legendary entertainment attorney and champion of independent filmmakers, and I went to their presentation.
At the conference, Donaldson and Dick discussed This Film is Not Yet Rated in terms of fair use decisions and rights and clearances, and everyone in attendance learned a great deal about the law as well as how the MPAA makes its ratings decisions and which biases are in play in those determinations, which is the subject of that documentary.
Even if you haven’t heard of This Film is Not Yet Rated, you may be aware of The Invisible War, the Oscar-nominated film that renewed discussion of sexual assault in the military on Capitol Hill.
Both The Invisible War and The Hunting Ground, which uses the Title IX case against a number of colleges for their handling of sexual assault cases as a framing device, are vitally important stories. I hope the power of these narratives will make people take notice and take action.
The Hunting Ground, which almost feels “ripped from the headlines,” looks at campus climate and how cases are shaped by influences such as fraternities, athletics, and administrative concerns about bad press and donor response. In terms of aesthetics, I think the level of craft in The Hunting Ground is higher than in The Invisible War because of the observational sequences that break up the interviews and add context.
I won’t write more about The Hunting Ground here, but you can listen to my commentary about the film on WFDD’s Triad Arts Weekend program May 1, 2015, which is the same day the film opens at a/perture cinema in Winston-Salem.
If you’d like to get a sneak preview of the film before its local theatrical debut, check it out and hear Kirby Dick in person on Thursday, April 23 at 6 p.m. on the Wake Forest University campus as part of the Reynolda Film Festival organized by Wake Forest students. This screening is free and open to the public in Broyhill Auditorium of Farrell Hall.
*Michael Donaldson’s firm Donaldson + Calif handled rights and clearances for a film I co-directed with Cindy Hill, Living in the Overlap.