Thursday, 19 November 2015

REVIEW - THE HUNTING GROUND (KIRBY DICK)


Documentary as art - by virtue of existing, not least within what is widely considered an art form, these films are beacons of honesty and justice, exposing truths and shaping them into stories. The Hunting Ground is, thus, a most successful work of documentary and a most essential work of art. And, despite the disquiet it may cause in its viewers, it represents just about the least that could be done. Director Kirby Dick and producer Amy Ziering seek to discover some sort of remedy for the problem of sexual assault on American university campuses, contributing what they can to the cause by forming the most accessible and cohesive record to date on the magnitude of that problem. They did the same for rape in the army with their last feature, The Invisible War; to compare the two is like comparing different cases of rape - not especially advisable, though both of these films are brilliant and harrowing. The Hunting Ground is less harrowing because it presents some sort of solution, the beginnings of what appears to be a remedy, in the outstanding efforts of some rape survivors to bring national attention to this topic. This optimism is possibly detrimental to the film's emotive power, probably necessary for those involved, almost certainly tantamount to the most admirable delusion. You'll need only cast your mind back five minutes into The Hunting Ground to remember why. But awareness is an essential step toward achieving power and equality, to wrestle it back from the abusers, and thus this optimism is undeniably right. It helps make this film the essential work of art that it is.