2016 Sundance Docs in Focus: AUDRIE & DAISY

audrieMy Sundance 2016 doc profiles begin with AUDRIE & DAISY, Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk’s exploration of the dangerous combination of juvenile sexual assault and social media shaming.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

Audrie and Daisy, two high school girls in different towns across America, were sexually assaulted by boys they thought were their friends. Both girls experienced social media bullying and were stigmatized – and both attempted suicide. Tragically, Audrie takes her own life, but Daisy survives, and her story becomes a journey to keep living. By juxtaposing their stories and drawing connections between the two teenage girls, bold filmmakers Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk illuminate the larger societal epidemic of sexual assault that has been exacerbated by today’s technologies. And rather than paint a simple picture, they also give voice to the spectrum of male perspectives involved in Daisy’s case: her assailants, the small-town sheriff, and her brother, who now works to change the next generation of boys.

Through the specificity of Audrie and Daisy’s experiences, insights emerge that can be extrapolated to the larger landscape. As Daisy learns Audrie’s story and joins a community of survivors, AUDRIE & DAISY sparks a vital conversation around breaking these cycles of stigma and isolation for teenage rape victims that has blown up in the face of social media hysteria.

Some Background:
Directors: Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk
Cohen is a Sundance alum as a producer of WONDERS ARE MANY (2007) and executive producer of 3 1/2 MINUTES, TEN BULLETS (2015). She is also a co-founder of the Catapult Film Fund. Shenk directed the Toronto audience-award winner THE ISLAND PRESIDENT, for which Cohen served as a producer. He is a past Independent Spirit Award winner for his feature directorial debut, LOST BOYS OF SUDAN, and an Emmy Award winner for the public television program, BLAME SOMEBODY ELSE.

Producers: Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen, and Sara Dosa
Berge produced PRESIDENT and both directed and produced the Emmy-nominated THE RAPE OF EUROPA together with Cohen. Dosa is a Sundance alum as an associate producer for INEQUALITY FOR ALL (2013), and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for her doc THE LAST SEASON.

Why You Should Watch:
Experiences like those of Audrie and Daisy are sadly too common, necessitating awareness and action to help prevent both future crimes and the revictimization of young people through online bullying and other shaming practices. Cohen and Shenk wisely ground their investigation into rape culture through the harrowing stories of their two subjects, expanded through the lens of family, friends, and community. At the same time, they open a disturbing window into the destructive groupthink that enables young people to perpetrate such crimes and the structures of power that often provides them with impunity from consequences.

More Info:
Sundance’s Meet the Artists

For Sundance screening dates and times, 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 2016 Twitter list.

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

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