At its Sundance premiere, Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s “The Hunting Ground” was warmly received by its activist audience, who after the screening, pledged to help find ways to tackle the film’s main target: the epidemic of rape and sexual assaults that take place on college campuses around the country. The film repeats the statistic that 4-5 out of every female college student will be sexually assaulted. Much like “The Invisible War”–Dick and Ziering’s film about rape in the military, which helped institute changes in U.S. military policy–“The Hunting Ground” relies on emotional first-person testimony from dozens of women–the sheer number and weight of confessions becomes impossible to ignore, who speak not only about the horribleness of the assaults, but also the way in which college officials repeatedly try to suppress their reporting.
But unlike “The Invisible War,” “The Hunting Ground” indicts multiple groups who are culpable: universities, fraternities, college sports teams, and local law enforcement. When TWC-RADiUS releases the film this March, an extraordinary amount of media fuss is likely to follow. One of the areas that news outlets are already focusing on, and which the film could impact, is an abandoned legal case against star FSU football player Jameis Winston. However, the filmmakers and their advocates will have a much tougher battle ahead this time, facing powerful universities, where money and prestige are at stake.