With sexual assault and cover-ups on college campuses coming to the forefront of social media and news spotlighted recently by the Baylor and Stanford University incidents, it is no surprise that parents and students are on edge. Concerned about campus safety, a new documentary shines light on the ways to be proactive, to prevent and stop this violence.
This Friday and Saturday, award-winning filmmaker Amy Ziering comes to Austin for two screenings of her documentary The Hunting Ground, hosted by the Survive2Thrive Foundation and sponsored by the Alamo Drafthouse and the City of Austin Cultural Arts Division. The screenings address an important issue facing college students and parents alike — campus assault.
Ziering is no stranger to tackling controversial topics. In 2014 she won an Emmy in Best Documentary and Outstanding Investigative Journalism for The Invisible War, which was also nominated for an Academy Award. Her newest film, The Hunting Ground, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015, has sparked heated debates, campus protests, and an investigation launched by the Department of Education on multiple universities throughout the U.S.
Written and directed by Kirby Dick and produced by Ziering, The Hunting Ground follows a series of sexual assaults on American college campuses, deeply exploring rape culture in our schools. It has received the Producers Guild of America’s 2016 Stanley Kramer Award and is nominated for the Producers Guild of America’s top documentary award. Since its debut, The Hunting Ground has been screened at the White House and hundreds of college campuses and is also responsible for changes in campus policies and new laws in California and New York.
If you haven’t seen the documentary, you may remember Lady Gaga’s powerful performance at the Oscars earlier this year when she sang “Til It Happens to You” alongside dozens of sexual abuse survivors. The song, featured in the documentary, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
With 10-plus colleges and universities located in the area, Courtney Santana, founder of Survive2Thrive, says this is an important film to be shown in Central Texas.
“Domestic violence and sexual assault are serious problems that affect millions of Americans every year, according to the Department of Justice. In 2006 alone, 300,000 college women reported being raped, and in 2011, more than 18,000 Texans reported a sexual assault, with more than 1,000 of those cases taking place just in Travis and Williamson counties. These are numbers that we just can’t ignore,” Santana says.
Santana, who, along with her children, is a domestic violence survivor, says that controversy can be good because it starts a conversation.
“This film has shed light into the dark corners of campus sexual assault. If people are outraged, they should be, and their anger should motivate them to push for protection and help for victims,” she says. “The reason Survive2Thrive is hosting this event is that we want more survivors to come forward and share their stories, changing that pain into power, and helping others.
“This is a chance for college students, future college students, and all residents of Central Texas to learn more about how sexual abuse and domestic violence harms individuals, separates families, and has a lasting negative affect on more than just the one intended victim,” she adds.
Get tickets now to the exclusive screening of The Hunting Ground at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, showing Friday, June 24, and Saturday, June 25, at 7 pm. Stick around after the film for a special panel discussion with Ziering. Prior to the Friday night screening, there’s also a VIP reception and meet-and-greet with Ziering at The Austonian from 4 to 6 pm.