Documentaries can be hard to watch, they are almost never pleasant and often remind of us of some horror or tragedy that is going on in our world at the time. They are often one of the most impressionable and important films that hit our Festivals each year, and just like their dramatic and comedic competitors, some standout more than others. Going into the Sundance Film Festival this year “The Hunting Ground” was one of the few films that wasn’t looking for a buyer, it was looking to make a statement and to drum-up press before its national release.
“The Hunting Ground” premiered yesterday, it was one of a few documentaries scheduled to hit the festival this year, but was certainly one of the most anticipated. The film focuses on the alarming rise of sexual assault cases and incidences that occur on college campuses across the country. Not just the incidences themselves, but how they are handled in by school administration. The film hopes to raise awareness of the dangers that men and women face at such a crucial time in their lives, but also shine a light on the thousands of people that are fighting against the rising-trend everyday.
Produced by Amy Ziering the film was directed by Kirby Dick. The two are no strangers to the war on assault in our culture, having both worked on “The Invisible War,” telling the story of sexual assault in the military among its ranks. That film actually had a crucial part in the making of “The Hunting Grounds.” During the promotional tour of the film, the team hit college campuses while screening ‘The Invisible War,’ and students would talk to Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering about similarities between the military sexual-assault cases and their college life.
“At every single college we screened ‘The Invisible War’ at, someone said to us afterwards, ‘You know, this happened to me here,’” Ziering stated. The team said that student across America were writing in, calling their offices and speaking with the team in person, all in hopes that someone would write a film that spoke about what was going on in today’s campuses.
“The Hunting Grounds” is at times painful to watch, as it should be, since the film is a reflection of what is going on in our own society. From distant and seemingly uncaring or unwillingly to support University administrators, to other students that seem oblivious or aloof to the growing problem, the film offers a stark contrast from those with the desire to want to help, to those that seem to cave-in to the basic-reflex of ignoring the issue.
The film isn’t just for those that have suffered through a sexual-assault, it’s a film for all of us. It’s a story that shows us that we already failed thousands of students across the country as we collectively ignored a growing problem. The film also shows us that there are already people willing to work, and fix this issue, and that they simply need our support and our attention.
The film will hit theaters and will be a video-on-demand title later this year, but its television premiere on CNN will most likely be the focus of the studio’s marketing.