Original Song - "Till It Happens to You" - Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga
The Hunting Ground is another powerful documentary from Kirby Dick (the Director who made "The Invisible War" about rape in the military). This time, he explores rape on college campuses and how administrators respond (or don't) to it.
Candidly, I struggled with this film - as important and powerful as it is - because I used to work in Student Affairs and all of the professionals I know care deeply about their students and are champions for survivors and men and women alike who report rape. I know a handful of Deans and Vice Presidents on campus, and I simply can't see them counseling women not to report, to cover it up, or to make their lives miserable. Having said that, there is no question that it is in a university's interest to have low crime statistics, and when it comes to the greek system and athletics, there is a vested interest in preserving the veneer of perfection given how alumni contributions impact schools.
It's important to note that only a small percentage of those who are assaulted even report rape, and some of the reason is the way that they are publicly shamed. This film also tracks how young college students are taking power and using the legal system to hold universities accountable to their "duty of care" and "duty to protect" the students on their campuses. Seeing these women use their personal power is especially inspiring, and seeing them both create networks and education for each other is exciting.
I recently posted a comment on a friend's Facebook post about rape in America, and another commenter immediately attacked me and reported that "most men" have been falsely accused of rape, which is a patently false accusation without basis in fact or statistics. And fresh off that comment, I had the opportunity to view this film, making it even harder to swallow. Knowing that there is an underbelly of defensiveness from certain audiences makes me wonder how they would respond to this question: "if the movie is wrong by half, isn't it STILL imperative that we protect people from violence on our college campuses? And if we dismiss allegations simply because we are uncomfortable, aren't we part of the problem?"
At any rate, I think the song nominated for this film is the most powerful and haunting of all of the nominees. Diane Warren is no stranger to the Oscars (this is her 7th nomination) and this collaboration with Lady Gaga may be her best yet. I hope you'll listen to the song and see the film.