Sundance 2015: College Rape Doc The Hunting Ground Has Value But is Artistically Displeasing

By  · Published on January 25th, 2015

Sundance Film Festival

A quarter of all women who attend an American institution of higher learning will be sexually assaulted. An infuriatingly tiny fraction of the men who attack them will face any kind of consequences. In this spiritual sequel to their 2012 film The Invisible War, director Kirby Dick and producer Amy Ziering explore how colleges and universities shelter rapists and fail victims of rape. It is saddening and maddening in equal measure. And it’s also strangely rote.

The Hunting Ground broke me, and not in the way you might expect a film about rape to do so. There was once a time where I could forgive any standard-made documentary for its prosaic construction as long as its material was good enough. But now that I’m more engaged with the news, so many of these films reiterate a great deal of what I already know. And not even the emotional content can be enough to redeem them. While many of the stories related by the women (and a few men) in this film are harrowing, sometimes shattering, they aren’t that different from the firsthand accounts run by any given feminist website.