The lights dimmed on the jam-packed Athena Cinema on Court Street. As the chatter from Ohio University students came to complete silence, students were exposed to a video PSA from OU administration members. Administration gave a stern and serious warning that sexual assault on Ohio University campus is taken “very seriously” and will not be tolerated — a message that will soon be mocked in the documentary that follows it.
The mood quickly changed from serious to lighthearted as the documentary began by showing YouTube reactions of individuals across the country finding out they have been accepted to their dream school. Laughter ensued as the students likely reflected on the moment they found out they had been accepted to Ohio University. However, the laughter quickly died down. For the next hour and 45 minutes, the documentary, “The Hunting Ground,” directed by Kirby Dick, shows the dark side to college campus nightlife through tear-jerking testimonials from survivors of sexual assault and morbid statistics of this epidemic that is plaguing college campuses all over the country.
Some of the startling statistics are shown in the film’s trailer below:
The film tells the haunting tales of what is happening to college men and women at a diverse range of campuses in EVERY state. After leaving the film, there is absolutely no denying that sexual assault is happening everywhere. It’s not limited to a specific race, gender or geography.
While some question the validity of the statistics in this documentary, the film brings to light an extremely important issue. “The Hunting Ground” might just be the most important film you and your fellow college acquaintances see all year. It has thrown fuel into a fiery debate going on in our country and has ignited the conversation among students on campuses across the nation. To insure this debate continues on after viewers leave the theater, individuals are urged to keep the discussion going and speak out via social media using the hashtags #TheHuntingGround and #ItsOnUs.
— Ohio University Film (@oufilm) September 21, 2015
— Jenny Hall-Jones (@JennyHallJones) September 21, 2015
A beautiful ballad used in the film, sung by Lady Gaga and created for the documentary has also taken social media by storm. The music video could be disturbing to some viewers, as it artistically depicts scenes of sexual assault.
The video now almost has almost 10 million views on YouTube, and has been used as platform for viewers to comment about their unique stories to continue the conversation and to make strides toward change in how college campuses educate students and deal with sexual assault cases. Not only is this film important, but this film has caused bonds through social media to remind survivors of sexual assault that they are not alone.
The Hunting Ground will continue to play at the Athena Cinema through Thursday, September 24, 2015 at Ohio University. Admission is free and showtimes can be found here. The documentary will premiere in theaters in March, but the national conversation should not stop there, and the conversation at Ohio University should not stop Thursday. There is no doubt this film portrays a very real issue happening to America’s youth, and the only way it can be stopped is to continue the conversation, because it is indeed on us.