Among the 13 documentary films that will debut in February at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, perhaps the most timely is Kirby Dick's "The Hunting Ground." The film follows survivors of rape on college campuses and reveals the institutional and social repercussions they face as they attempt to pursue justice.
The problem of rape on college campuses and the highly flawed way that college administrations handle them was recently given a higher profile when Rolling Stone published journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely's exposé on the epidemic of rape and administration cover-up at University of Virginia in an article titled "A Rape On Campus: A Brutal Assault and A Struggle for Justice at UVA." The sensational piece generated a lot of discussion, some of it negative: Due to problems with Erdely's reporting -- including not interviewing the men her subject "Jackie" accused of raping her -- Rolling Stone wrote a disclaimer apologizing for its flawed reporting.
“This controversy shouldn’t take away from the fact that UVA (as well as many other colleges) need to do their jobs and make sure they are keeping their campuses safe,” Wagatwe Wanjuki, a rape survivor and activist told International Business Times. “The developments don’t change the fact that the administration doesn’t believe they should expel rapists, for example.”
"The Hunting Ground" promises to delve into the minefield that is rape on college campuses, exploring the problems with how college administrations handle rape cases on their campuses, as exemplified by the "Jackie" and UVA case.
Dick's previous Oscar-nominated documentary, "The Invisible War," which was about the epidemic of rape in the U.S. military, won the 2012 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award and effected policy change by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta after he screened the film. His other documentaries include 2004's "Twist of Faith," about a man who confronts the trauma of his past sexual abuse by a Catholic priest, and 2006's "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," which looked at the way the Motion Picture Association of America rates films and how that affects American popular culture.