#REVIEW: “THE HUNTING GROUND”
Review by Justin Waldman for Mr. Will Wong
Kirby Dick certainly doesn’t shy from disturbing topics. His last Film, The Invisible War, focused on Rape Culture in the Military. In the United States, Universities/Colleges continually are faced with Sexual Assault allegations, but their resources leave much to be desired. The Hunting Ground sheds light on some of the most prestigious Schools in the U.S. and how they are handling the ever-alarming Rape Culture pandemic.
The Hunting Ground starts by revealing accounts from Students who have been sexually-assaulted on campus and what their Schools did for them. The sad truth is little. The Universities encourage Students not to seek legal action because it reflects poorly on the School. Often the Accused gets ‘off-the-hook’ with a warning, as we see. The truly disturbing fact is that this is happening at prestigious Schools such as Yale, Harvard, North Carolina, Berkeley, and so forth. What is even more saddening is how often we see the shifting of blame from the Assaulter to the Victim.
The phenomena of Victim-Blaming and Reputation-Saving is disheartening, and as Kirby Dick tries to move The Hunting Ground into something more positive, he does so by focusing on Andrea Pino and Annie Clark both whom are Victims of Sexual Assault. Andrea and Annie banded together to create a Support System for other Victims who have been neglected by their Schools to try and demonstrate that this is more than just a one-off scenario. Even when the Schools do act justly, the actions often are too late and therefore, in vain. There is an example from The Daily Show that says the Student will be expelled upon graduation, so said Rapist is allowed to continue their education while being a Criminal because the University does not want to expel said Student? This Film sheds light upon some truly disturbing realities.
The Hunting Ground is not only a Documentary that sheds light on a plague of sorts. It exposes the horrible crimes that occur within Schools, which get shuffled beneath-the-rug to protect the reputation of the School and ensure their funding and admissions stay intact. When a Star Athlete is accused of Sexual Assault, the Schools work that much harder to clear said Athlete’s name because Sports play an integral role within the American College System.
The most unnerving part of The Hunting Ground is the number of Sexual Assaults reported to the School versus resulting in expulsion in comparison to that of Students caught cheating on their Finals or Papers. The Hunting Ground is poignant and affecting, giving a voice for the Victim in a Country which fails to provide them a Safety Net.
Also take note of a powerful Musical Contribution from Megastar Lady Gaga and Grammy-winning Songwriter Dianne Warren late in the Film.
eOne Films release The Hunting Ground Friday March 20, 2015.