2015 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE HUNTING GROUND

hunting groundSundance alum Kirby Dick exposes the epidemic of campus sexual assaults in Documentary Premieres title THE HUNTING GROUND.


Sundance Program Description:

The statistics are staggering. One in five women in college are sexually assaulted, yet only a fraction of these crimes are reported, and even fewer result in punishment for the perpetrators. From the intrepid team behind THE INVISIBLE WAR, comes THE HUNTING GROUND, a piercing, monumental exposé of rape culture on campuses, poised to light a fire under a national debate.

In a tour de force of verité footage, expert insights, and first-person testimonies, the film follows undergraduate rape survivors pursuing both their education and justice, despite ongoing harassment and the devastating toll on them and their families. Scrutinizing the gamut of elite Ivies, state universities, and small colleges, filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering reveal an endemic system of institutional cover-ups, rationalizations, victim-blaming, and denial that creates perfect storm conditions for predators to prey with impunity. Meanwhile, the film captures mavericks Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, survivors who are taking matters into their own hands – ingeniously employing Title IX legal strategy to fight back and sharing their knowledge among a growing, unstoppable network of young women who will no longer be silent.

Some Background:
This is Kirby Dick’s seventh documentary at Sundance, following audience award-winner THE INVISIBLE WAR (2012), THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED (2006), TWIST OF FAITH (2005), DERRIDA (2002), CHAIN CAMERA (2001), and special jury prize-winner SICK: THE LIFE & DEATH OF BOB FLANAGAN, SUPERMASOCHIST (1997). Both THE INVISIBLE WAR and TWIST OF FAITH were nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar. Working with him once again as producer is Amy Ziering, who co-directed and produced DERRIDA and also produced WAR and Dick’s film OUTRAGE, which debuted at Tribeca. The film’s executive producers include Radius-TWC’s Tom Quinn and Jason Janego, who served in the same roles for OUTRAGE, as well as for Sundance alum BACHELORETTE (2012); CNN Films’ Vinnie Malhotra and Amy Entelis, who are also in Park City with fellow 2015 Documentary Premieres title FRESH DRESSED and executive produced last year’s WHITEY: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V JAMES J BULGER, IVORY TOWER, and LIFE ITSELF; Regina Kulik Scully, also an executive producer on this year’s DREAMCATCHER, THE MASK YOU LIVE IN, and PROPHET’S PREY, and a Sundance alum with last year’s PRIVATE VIOLENCE and FED UP, as well as ANITA (2013), THE INVISIBLE WAR, and MISS REPRESENTATION (2011); Impact Partners’ Dan Cogan, also represented at this year’s festival by SEMBENE!, DREAMCATCHER, HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD, CHUCK NORRIS VS COMMUNISM, and CENSORED VOICES, as well as last year’s WATCHERS OF THE SKY and WEB JUNKIE; Maria Cuomo Cole, a Sundance alum with THE INVISIBLE WAR and LIVING FOR 32 (2011); Bob Compton, who executive produced last year’s US Documentary Grand Jury Prize winner RICH HILL; financier Paul Winston Blavin of Graceful Light Entertainment; philanthropist Ruth Ann Harnisch from The Harnisch Foundation; philanthropist Sukey Novogratz; and Mark & Barbara Gerson.

Why You Should Watch:
With THE INVISIBLE WAR, Dick and Ziering demonstrated an ability to use film to catalyze audiences around widespread, systemic abuses of power and to demand change. Their new film promises to do the same, laying bare the tactics used to downplay and dismiss campus sexual assault, and calling to task institutions that seemingly care more for their public image than for the safety of their students.

More Info:
For more information, visit the film’s website, which includes a mailing list signup. As they become available, I’ll link to upcoming features, such as Indiewire‘s filmmaker interviews and the film’s trailer. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2015 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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