The hunting ground

The most shocking thing about The hunting ground, the new documentary about rape and sexual assault on American college and university campuses, is that the young victims are sapped of the self-confidence, the innocence and the hope of a promising future. We see young women say that to report the rape and seeing no charges being laid, not even an eviction, from the college’s administrators or sometime by the police, is, for some, worst than the rape itself. Why do they let so many rapists go unpunished, free to remain on campus and rape again, and again? Are they aware that most students who rape are repeat offenders? Well, if it is known that students are not secure on their campuses, they’re going to lose funding, enrollment is going to go down and it is going to hurt their reputation. And colleges and universities insist (while refusing to speak to the filmmakers) there is no cultures of rape on their campuses, and that they protect the victims. And they will fire any staff members who disagree with them. But the women and men who are interviewed by writer-director Kirby Dick have stories to tell. The hunting ground‘s claim is that college university football players and other athletes who are rapists, are protected by the universities, the coaches, the police, sport commentators and sport fans. The athletes/rapists are getting praised, scholarships, and even get drafted in the NFL, while the young women they raped have to leave school because of the harassment and threats they receive. A man tearfully speak about how the depression brought on by the lack of support from the university caused his daughter to commit suicide. And there is a young man’s painful memory of how hard it was to tell his parents he had been raped. The film’s focus are Annie E. Clark and Andrea Pino. Both women were raped at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and have filed a Title IX complaint to force the university to address sexual assault and rape more seriously. Other students have filed complaints against colleges and universities across the US. So there is hope.

And the Oscar went to… One of the most moving musical moment in the history of the Oscars was when Lady Gaga performed the nominated “Till it happens to you” from The hunting ground. Gaga, herself a sexual abuse survivor, was joined on the stage by rape victims from Universities around the US, women as well as men. They got a well deserved standing ovation. The song was introduced by Vive-President Joe Biden. Biden called on every one to intervene when they see a person being abused or raped. Powerful. But the winner was “Writing’s on the wall” from the James Bond film Spectre. It became the biggest upset of the evening.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

The hunting ground

Directed by:
Kirby Dick
Screenplay by:
Kirby Dick
104 min.
Rated 14A
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