From the makers of The Invisible War (2012) comes a startling exposé of rape crimes on U.S. college campuses, their institutional cover-ups and the devastating toll they take on students and their families. Weaving together verité footage and first-person testimonies, the film follows the lives of several undergraduate assault survivors as they attempt to pursue - despite incredible push back, harassment, and traumatic aftermath - both their education and justice.
The Hunting Ground is a really good documentary, that reveals an epidemic in America, one that is still argued about and ignored. The film is often powerful, often real, and often beyond belief. The Hunting Ground is good, but not great because it tells a crucial and relevant story, it handles its subject matter respectfully and powerfully, but it contains a few plot lines that feel detached from the story being told. That being said the film is still worth watching, especially if you're about to enter college, or have children about to enter college.
The Hunting Ground tells the important story of how college's around the country are participating in an unbelievable rape culture in order to keep their images clean. The film begins with, and mostly follows Andrea Pino and Annie Clark on their journey to fight rape culture. The film is powerful, and at times scary because it often shows examples of this, that only help to showcase its message, and put the audience in perspective of what we allow to happen right under our noses.
The film uses many interviews, which are at times hard to watch, but are also important for understanding the problem director, Kirby Dick, is trying to show. The film's tone is one that is tense, and unsettling, sometimes even feeling like a horror film with its use of music. The film also uses humor to help show the ignorance of our culture, for instance there is a moment in the film when a large group of college men gather together chanting "no means yes, yes means anal!" Many colleges will probably detest this film, as right or wrong the film portrays colleges as the main antagonist, however there is factual basis for why they do this.
The film does have a few flaws, such as it's bias being more obvious or present than it should be. By that I mean the film would have been more powerful, and more engrossing if the audience were shown that the colleges have a reason for being the way they are, they aren't evil organizations. Also some of the interviews, as powerful and relevant as they may be, feel detached from the story of Andrea and Annie, which makes the story seem a little too unfocused. Because of this I also found myself occasionally wondering where the film was going, and when it would end.
In the end Kirby's reasons for having these flaws is understandable, as he's trying to cover a topic too large for one film, especially a film that is only an hour and a half. The stories and interviews in this film are powerful, and the film ambitiously attacks a cultural epidemic that does need to be changed. Dick's message comes at a time when society is even more unstable, and changing hopefully lots of people see movies like this and are inspired to act.
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