Domestic Violence was a documentary feature entry in the most recent Chicago International Film Festival. The director had his camera witness things as they were going along. There are no interviews and no recreations. The subjects of the documentary were abused women who are welcomed into a shelter in Florida, and we are introduced to them through the registry process, assignment of housing and counseling sessions, as well as the generous staff who run the shelter and provide comfort. To watch these survivors pick themselves up and try to go forward with their lives, especially those who have children, is dramatic, and hopeful, and heartbreaking. All audience members will have specific dialogue bits reach them personally, whatever they may be, especially audience members who had experienced mental, emotional or physical abuse. Ideas take up entire scenes, but one or two simple sentences uttered by the film's participants can become so profound to the viewer. Documentary films can be just as powerful, dramatic, shocking, inspired, educational and even entertaining as their fictional counterparts, and "Domestic Violence" provides the viewer with an emotional roller coaster. The director has shown that the effects of abuse on other people, especially those that so loved their abusers, can have far-reaching effects (the abused finally leave their abusers, fine, but they are far from done with what has happened). This is an excellent documentary film that deserves to be seen.
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