The Hunting Ground Movie Review
Arguably the most powerful documentary you’ll see all year, The Hunting Ground is the controversial exposé on rape at college campuses. Hitting on the same points raised in Jon Krakauer’s Missoula--most notably, that a large percent of college rapes are committed by a small percent of men (read: repeat offenders)--The Hunting Ground is a disturbing examination of how and why nearly one in five women on college campuses experience sexual assault, and the reasons universities rarely pursue or punish the accused.
The Hunting Ground is controversial in part because the documentary attacks specific universities and portrays them in a not-so-positive light (said universities don’t like that), and also because it presents a variety of statistics (like the bold claim that “less than 8% of men in college commit more than 90% of sexual assaults”) that are allegedly based on thin data or extrapolated from narrow samples. But said controversies miss the point, unless some believe that there isn’t a rape problem on U.S. campuses.
The Hunting Ground, directed by two-time Oscar nominee Kirby Dick, is purely an advocacy piece, but it’s a powerful one. If you agree that there is a problem with rape on college campuses--and I hope you do--then the movie only serves as a reasonable and riveting exploration of the driving forces behind the epidemic.
The documentary is fast paced, informative and upsetting. Statistics aside, the movie makes a strong argument for the failures of colleges, the police and prosecutors to properly address the problem and protect students. If you only watch one documentary this year, The Hunting Ground should probably be it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.