Documentary Critique

The documentary I watched was “The Hunting Ground,” directed by Kirby Dick. This film was an exposé on sexual assault on college campuses in the United States. It covered issues from the initial incident, how authorities handle it, and the repercussions the incident has on the victim. The film brought awareness of sexual assault through statistics, personal stories, and how advocates are trying to bring justice on repeated offenders.

The film brought in people from all aspects of sexual assaults to hear their different points of view. The majority of the dialogue was the victims sharing their story in detail about the night they were assaulted and the disappointment with administration they faced when trying to report the rape. The stories were so personal; you could feel the pain in the characters voices as they repeated them to the interviewer. The stories were told linearly and the storyline developed alongside the events of the actual assault. As more characters were introduced to the story, the documentary interviewed the situation from their point of view.

The documentary interviewed deans, professors, and presidents of universities to hear their take on that particular case and sexual assault in general on campuses. Many professors were advocates for students but discussed how universities are run like a business and try to cover up their flaws. Through the first hand experiences shared and statistics provided the audience can grasp that there is a problem, and universities are only inflicting more harm on the victim instead of helping. It made me as an audience member and college student frustrated to see these occurrences happening across the country.

As the story continued more characters were brought to the table: psychologists, police officers, lawyers and parents. The latter was the most heart wrenching to watch. Seeing how this situation affected the victim’s relationship to themselves as well as with their parents.   You could hear interviewer prompt the victim about their experience telling their parents. Some victims responded saying they still haven’t told them.

On a more legal side of the story, the documentary brought in the lawyers and police officers that played a role in sexual assault cases. They talked about the loopholes often found in rape cases and how universities have been proven to go behind a judicial court hearing and allow the rapist back onto campus. Seeing the legal system blatantly corrupted was disheartening. This showed the audience the aftermath of sexual assault from the perspective of the law. Evidence of the government and adults who are supposed to prosecute felons, instead are dismissing them.

To change the point of view again the filmmakers managed to get a rapist, who was incarcerated for 6.5 years, to talk about their perspective. This is another informative piece of information to support the rape stories, because all of his knowledge of how a rapist acts matches with all of the victim’s stories of assault. They also interviewed a fraternity brother to make the case that “sexual conquests” are something that is praised upon in fraternities.

The story had a beginning, middle, and end that was true to the way these sexual assaults played out in real life. Each part of the story had interviews from various points of views to support the main idea. The film finished with a positive outlook on the activism that is taking place across colleges to stop sexual assault on campuses. I think the film was extremely moving and should be strongly encouraged, if not mandatory, for every incoming student, and college administration to watch.


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