Debuting at Sundance in 2015 and eventually finding its way to an intimate White House screening, THE HUNTING GROUND (2015) is a controversial piece of cine-activism that provides an unabashedly harrowing insight into the reluctance of American colleges to acknowledge sexual assaults on campus. The documentary is led by civil rights duo Andrea Pino and Annie E Clark, as they embark on a social justice road trip across America providing support for sexually-assaulted college students while filing a detailed sexual discrimination complaint against their alma maters in their own cases.
Pino’s description of “vicarious trauma” poetically frames the film’s central drive, with every detailed description of rape creating waves of tear-inducing empathy for the victims, and anger towards the rapists, police and the universities. By including interviews from a variety of victims, college administrators and activists, as well as perpetrators, THE HUNTING GROUND presents a well researched, emotionally draining insight into the problems with prioritising college fraternities and sport stars over student safety. While the documentary has an undeniable sorrowful tone, with scenes of students standing up to institutions the audience are left with the hope that times are changing and that an ignorance of rape culture will soon be behind us.
The Diegesis magazine sponsored screening of THE HUNTING GROUND took place on Thursday 10 November as part of Southampton Film Week 2016.